A day after the men’s basketball team hosted an open practices for fans to come out and get a look at the team without star forward Keita Bates-Diop, the Buckeyes will be travelling to Spain to face professional-level talent in Europe.
The outcomes of those games may not matter much, but for head coach Chris Holtmann, a successful trip is about making sure his players stay healthy and continue growing as a group.
“Health, coming back healthy and a great educational experience and then obviously a chance for us to get to know each other,” Holtmann said. “That’s really what we’re hoping to get out of this trip.”
The team will be in Europe until Aug. 11, and will play opponents in Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia.
Holtmann said the games are important, but, when looking at things off the court, he said he was excited about how the players will do when put in a new situation.
“It’s a little bit like you’re going on a trip with your kids and you’re kind of anxious to see how they respond to seeing a different place,” Holtmann said. “Seeing how our guys, that maybe haven’t been out of the country much or at all, kind of respond to it a new environment.”
Holtmann said that the team is a “full go” for the trip, except for Florida State transfer guard C.J. Walker, who will not play this season due to transfer rules.
“He and I talked and, it’s a situation where, you know, he’s not playing on this year’s team, so I just said, ‘hey, why don’t you go kind of enjoy some time with family,’” Holtmann said. “He’s not going to be able to play for us even though he is a big part of our team.”
After such a successful year in Holtmann’s first season as Ohio State’s coach, expectations continue to be high that he can bring the Buckeyes back to the NCAA Tournament, even without the help of Bates-Diop, Jae’Sean Tate and Kam Williams.
Still, Holtmann said that this team is much younger, that he still has a lot to learn about them and that this Spain trip may help with some of the learning.
“You really did kind of have some guys [last year] that you said, unless something crazy happens those guys are going to start,” Holtmann said. “We certainly have some returning guys with experience, but I think there maybe are still things that need to be evaluated more with this group.”