For Chris Holtmann’s Ohio State Buckeyes, the team is expected by many to have a rough first season with their new head coach. Although Holtmann (somehow) recruited the top class in the Big Ten in 2017 even though he was only with the Buckeyes for a few months prior to signing day, the scarlet and gray are expected to struggled because of just how good the Big Ten is.
Along with the conference being so good, Ohio State has talent, but they don’t have a deep team whatsoever. They lack depth on the roster, especially in the backcourt. Due to that, they will struggle against the top teams in the conference and against very good teams around the country. With that said, I am much higher on the Buckeyes than a lot of others. The media predicted Ohio State to be one of the worst teams in the Big Ten at season’s end, I don’t think that will happen.
With the college basketball season beginning Friday night, Holtmann was on the sideline for the first time as the head coach of the Buckeyes. Although the competition was very weak, the scarlet and gray went a perfect 2-0 during the first weekend of college basketball with a 95-64 win over Robert Morris Friday night and a 82-72 victory over Radford Sunday afternoon.
Buckeyes cruises to a 95-64 win over Robert Morris in season opener
For Holtmann, Friday night was special. It wasn’t just any other basketball game, it was his first game on the sidelines as the Ohio State Buckeyes men’s basketball head coach. He admitted that he wish he would have appreciated it much more than he did.
“I could probably do a better job of that. I got multiple texts today from friends who said to take some time to enjoy the moment. I completely ignored those texts. I was more anxious than I thought I would be,” he said. “You want to perform well for your home fans in your first opportunity to play in front of them. You want your players to perform well for themselves. I was more anxious and tied up than I thought I would be, so getting that under our belt was
With that said, his team had quite an opener against a team that was much worse than the Buckeyes. They took an early 18-8 lead after a 14-2 run and never looked back. Ohio State owned a 46-26 halftime lead, which allowed them to play everyone on the roster at some point in the second half.
Ohio State dominated the Colonials in almost all areas of the game. They overmatched them with their size, shot 60 percent from the field while holding Robert Morris to shoot just 35 percent, outscored them 66-18 in the paint, and the Buckeyes outrebounded them, 51-23.
After missing the final 21 games of the 2016-17 season, Keita Bates-Diop had quite a debut in the opener, finishing with 19 points, 11 rebounds, one assist, and two blocks. He had a career-high seven offensive rebounds. Along with Bates-Diop, Kam Williams scored 16 points to go along with two rebounds and one steal.
True freshmen Kaleb Wesson (13 points, seven rebounds) and Musa Jallow (11 points, two rebounds, two steals) had very good debuts as well. Kyle Young, while only having four points on two dunks in the final minute, had quite a high-flying dunk in his debut.
— Josh Poloha (@JorshP) November 11, 2017
Holtmann commented on Jallow’s performance following the game:
“Musa has played tonight like he has practiced for us in spots. He has had some very good moments that I hinted at a couple weeks ago when I talked to you guys,” the head coach said. “He’s 17-years old, but he has a maturity to him. He has been able to make threes, and be a guy that defensively we can rely on.”
Although it was against a much weaker opponent, starting off the season with a strong, dominate game was important for the Buckeyes. Now Holtmann and company can focus on getting better as the season goes on after some of the players and coaching staff got their first game as a Buckeye out of the way.
Following the game, it seems as though Ohio State basketball has a new tradition. Much like the football team, the men’s basketball team will sing the school’s alma mater, “Carmen Ohio”, after the game.
A new tradition for Ohio State Basketball this season. Buckeyes singing Carmen Ohio after each game. They take the first game of the Chris Holtmann era, 95-64 over Robert Morris pic.twitter.com/lB0o8tREOF
— James Grega Jr. (@JGrega11) November 11, 2017
Ohio State takes down Radford, 82-72
In a game that the Buckeyes dominated much more than the score would appear, the scarlet and gray beat the Highlanders to start the season 2-0, as predicted.
The scarlet and gray were quite sloppy in the first half, including early turnovers that forced them to only hold a 11-10 and 15-14 lead almost 10 minutes into the game. Thanks to a 16-2 run, Ohio State was able to blow the game open and they took a 44-34 lead into halftime.
With a 10-point lead heading into the final 20 minutes, the Buckeyes began the second half on a 17-1 run to all basically put the game away. The game ended much closer than it should have been after Radford closed the game on a 13-2 run after Holtmann cleared the bench.
Bates-Diop had his second straight double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds, to go along with one steal and one block. C.J. Jackson added a career-high 19 points, six rebounds, three assists, and two steals and Jae’Sean Tate ended with 13 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, and one steal.
After Jackson had a career game, Holtmann was proud of the way his point guard played but knows that he can get better moving forward, especially in terms of not turning the ball over.
“I thought he was playing well, obviously outside of turnovers. He can make shots. He can really shoot the ball. Right now, he’s just got such a big load, against pressure he is our primary ball handler. We are going to live through his mistakes,” Holtmann said of his starting point guard. “I have been really impressed with his growth, I really have, I hope that is understood. His work ethic is good, his willingness to want to get better has been good, his coachability has been good. I think his play has improved even though he has to turn it over less.”
One of the negative takeaways from the game was the fact that the Buckeyes backcourt had a hard time with Radford’s full-court press at times. Ohio State had 15 turnovers, including seven from Jackson1, four from Tate, and two from backup point guard Andrew Dakich.
Even with all the turnovers, Tate, who is one of the most vocal leaders on the team this season, made it known that he and his teammates are selfless and will do whatever is needed in order to win.
“This group of guys is so selfless. Whatever we can do for the team, they are willing to do it. That’s one thing we work on in practice — just giving effort and bringing energy,” he said. “I know if there’s a loose ball, multiple of my teammates are going to be the first to get on it, because that’s what we look for when we scout, watch film, and try to improve.”
Holtmann was disappointed with how the game started but counted on Tate and Bates-Diop to lead the team.
“I didn’t particularly care for the start, or really the first half. The bulk of the first half I didn’t think we had the mindset we needed to have at times,” he said about the poor start. “Having said that I thought that again Jae’Sean (Tate) and Keita (Bates-Diop) led the way with the way they talked to the team and challenged the team.”
- Four of which were in the first 6:38 of the game. [↩]