Basketball season is over two months away, but head coach Chris Holtmann is already breaking down what his team needs to improve upon before they tip off Oct. 30 against Cedarville.
“When you have a young group, no assumptions can be made on what they may or may not know,” Holtmann said. “How we want to do things, our expectations, it just can’t be said enough.”
A major theme for the Buckeyes this season will be their inexperience.
Several starters return from 2018, including junior forward and scoring leader Kaleb Wesson. However, with a trio of four-star prospects from 2019 and two transfers from other schools, new faces will fill key roles for the Buckeyes this season.
As the summer draws to a close, Holtmann hopes to get those new faces in the groove.
“Overall, [we’re] just ready for this month-and-a-half grind here before practice gets rolling,” Holtmann said. “The summer is so important because you’re trying to set the tone with your young guys.”
The fresh talent will be tested early, with marquee nonconference matchups against Cincinnati, Villanova, North Carolina and Kentucky — all of which finished the 2018-2019 season receiving votes in the AP poll. Kentucky and North Carolina both finished in the top 10.
It’s no wonder that on Wednesday, Holtmann called this schedule the most challenging he’s dealt with as a coach. Experience should come for the freshmen in short order.
Holtmann also took time to detail his team’s health status.
Sophomore forward Justin Ahrens dealt with a back injury over the summer and missed significant off-season workout time as a result. Junior guard Musa Jallow has also been limited due to swelling in his ankles from an unknown cause.
“Justin’s still coming back and still limited in what he can do right now,” Holtmann said. “He’s lost some weight so we’re monitoring that pretty closely.”
Overall, however, Holtmann said he is pleased with the health of his team. It appears as though everyone should be at full strength by the time preseason practice starts.
It’s too early for Holtmann to tell where most players are in their development. He’s remaining patient with his younger core.
“I think sometimes, as a coach, we forget. We all forget that we’re dealing with 18-, 19-year-olds for the most part,” Holtmann said. “A lot’s being thrown at them right now, between workouts and tutor sessions, all of that. It’s a lot for a student-athlete right now, for every student-athlete in every sport, and that’s a process that we’re working through with them right now.”