It’s not a great time for the Buckeyes to be banged up.
Ohio State played a tough nonconference schedule, including matchups with four ranked opponents, but only Big Ten games lie ahead.
Unfortunately for head coach Chris Holtmann and the Buckeyes, it will be a stretch they may have to face — at least partially — without starting junior forward Kyle Young, who had his appendix removed Sunday.
“In these kind of things, it’s always next man up. I say that also recognizing the value that Kyle brings to this team, which is significant,” Holtmann said. “I don’t want to minimize that at all. He’s had as good a junior year as anybody’s had.”
Sophomore guard Luther Muhammad said Young vomited four times before Ohio State’s 67-59 loss to West Virginia Sunday, though he still managed to grab double-digit rebounds in the game.
“That’s K.Y. He’s gonna give it all to you whether he has it or not,” senior forward Andre Wesson said. “You just want to play with a guy like that. You want to give your all for a guy like that.”
That same night, Young was admitted to a hospital for appendicitis. Due to the procedure, Holtmann said Young will be out for the Buckeyes’ matchup with Wisconsin at home Friday, and his status will be game-to-game thereafter.
Young is fourth on the team in scoring at 8.3 points per game and second in rebounding with 6.8. Hitting nearly 67 percent from the field, Young shoots more than 12 percent better than any other Buckeye.
After sustaining a stress fracture in his right leg this past season, Young missed four games and was hampered for the final half of the year.
“He’s frustrated with the fact that he’s missed some games the last couple years here,” Holtmann said. “And I think the timing of this really, really frustrates him.”
But Young isn’t the only Buckeye dealing with physical impairments.
Freshman forward Alonzo Gaffney, who may have helped share minutes with freshman forward E.J. Liddell in relief of Young, was out this week with flu-like symptoms, Holtmann said.
The first name Holtmann mentioned Thursday when addressing lineup changes to account for Young’s absence was sophomore forward Justin Ahrens.
Despite playing more of a wing than the traditional power forward presence of Young, Ahrens’ deft outside shooting touch may give the Buckeyes a lift in the scoring department.
But Ahrens isn’t at full health either. The Versailles, Ohio, native has been dealing with a back injury since before the season, which Holtmann said has caused him to lose weight. While Ahrens’ condition is improving, Holtmann said he still isn’t back at 100 percent.
Sophomore guard Duane Washington is just two games back from a rib injury that kept him out of matchups against Minnesota and Southeast Missouri State.
While it’s unclear if Washington is still limited by the injury, he’s played an average of six less minutes and shot nearly 20 percent worse from the field in his two games back than the nine prior.
Another Ohio State wing that would aid the Buckeyes with a starting forward down is junior guard Musa Jallow, who has yet to play this year after having an arthroscopic procedure on his ankle in October. However, Holtmann said there’s no plan for Jallow to return this year.
“That’s probably trending towards a redshirt situation,” Holtmann said.
While he didn’t give specifics, Holtmann said a couple of other players are dealing with limitations as well.
Holtmann said he’s anxious to see how the group responds to the circumstance, though he said the team has more depth than a season ago to better adjust to a key injury.
He’ll get his chance to see Friday night, as the Buckeyes take on Wisconsin at 7 p.m. in the Schottenstein Center.
“From now on, it’s heavy, heavy hitters the rest of the way out,” Wesson said. “It’s the Big Ten schedule now. If you show up and you’re not ready to play, you’re gonna get beat every night.”