Chris Holtmann and his staff already had a trip for Spain planned.
Before he left Butler, he and his staff were going to lead the Bulldogs on a 10-day trip abroad, facing professional-level competition as well as going through a multicultural experience. The Bulldogs did travel to Spain, but without Holtmann, who was hired to be the Ohio State men’s basketball coach in June 2017.
However, that dream for Holtmann remained, and in his second season with the Buckeyes, his first full summer with the team, he will take the Ohio State men’s basketball team on a 10-day trip to Spain.
For this group, a trip like this means much more than travelling to face professional-level talent and to see the sights. Ohio State will have seven new players, either freshman or transfers, on the roster going into the 2018-19 season.
Senior guard C.J. Jackson feels like this trip has the potential to define the culture and the chemistry of this team moving forward.
“I feel like it can bring us all together as a team,” Jackson said. “Especially with all of the new guys, that’s kind of the way we are looking at it, as a way to bond in a different setting that we are not used to.”
Holtmann said Ohio State will be facing teams that are a collection of professional players from Spain, saying that when other programs have travelled overseas for preseason games, they’ve been met with stiff competition.
However, when Holtmann asked other coaches who have taken their teams abroad if this kind of preparation and trip could give Ohio State an advantage heading into the regular season, the general consensus was one he didn’t expect: not necessarily.
Yet for a team with som many pieces that have not played together, Holtmann believes a trial by fire will help the team prepare for the season.
“When you have a group that is relatively new, it’s better, like we have it, it’s better because they really do spend concentrated time together and we get to learn more about them,” Holtmann said. “We will be put into some difficult game situations there because the competition there has been typically pretty good. So that will be good. We will be able to see how our guys respond to those situations.”
With the trip starting at the beginning of August, the Ohio State basketball team is already on campus, going through practices and trying to get a feel for each other on the court.
Jackson said these practices have been beneficial in teaching the new players how things are done at Ohio State.
“It is no issue with any of them and they have been accepting to learning and we have been learning from them as well,” Jackson said. “They came in with an open mind to get better, so it’s always easy to work with teammates like that.”
Holtmann knows this team is going to be different than last season. He wants to go into the season with an optimistic attitude, but knows there are challenges ahead for this team moving forward.
“I think, perception wise, we will try to be real and try to hopefully reach the potential for this group,” Holtmann said. “We are so anxious to see what that is going to look like because we don’t know what it is going to look like.”
Right now, it’s all about preparing for this season. Holtmann views this trip as an opportunity for Ohio State to get a step ahead, to increase team chemistry before season practices even begin with a brand new group of players.
“Listen, it’s good, it’s good for us to get some playing experience and we will need to be ready,” Holtmann said. “Hopefully a little more ready than even what we were last year.”