Gene Smith sees bright future for Ohio State basketball, Chris Holtman for ‘amazing’ career

Gene Smith sees bright future for Ohio State basketball, Chris Holtman for ‘amazing’ career


When Chris Holtman summed up his thoughts on his work with the Ohio State men’s basketball program, one word for Gene Smith came to mind.

Superior.

of Three-year contract extension And the $500,000 raise Holtzman received in May served as a clear indication of Smith’s approval for what the Buckeyes head coach has accomplished in his five seasons in Columbus. Perhaps more than that, he was A vote of confidence Given more time under Holtzmann’s leadership, what the program can accomplish in the near future.

In an exclusive interview with Eleven warriorsDan Hope, Ohio State’s athletic director last week, praised the progress Holtzmann and company have made on the recruiting trail — especially the top-10 nationally. 2022 class – He believes it will bring great success to the program in the coming years.

“When you see the culture that we have and the student-athletes that we’re recruiting, and this year we’re ranked first in the Big Ten, top five nationally, and then you get guys like me, Winters, and watch them do it — they’re exceptionally talented,” Smith said. You’ve got great leadership coming back this year and this team has a chance to be special for a long time. Chris and I have talked about it. Hopefully we have some young guys that will stick with us for a while.

Ohio State has yet to reach its second NCAA tournament weekend under Holtzmann, and Holtzmann has yet to hoist a Big Ten championship banner in the Schottenstein Center. But including the 2019-20 season shortened by Covid-19, all five of Buckeye’s teams earned (or would have) at-large bids to the Big Dance, something only Tad Mattan did at Ohio State before Holtzman.

“If we can maintain some stability over time, good coaches have a great opportunity to build a culture the right way and that’s a beautiful thing.”– Gene Smith

Holtzmann had five consecutive 20-win seasons with the Buckeyes, tied only by Kansas and Oregon among Power 5 programs. That consistency has been rewarded in the offseason as Holtzmann’s new contract puts him in the top 20. Highly paid coaches In college basketball last season, only Michigan State’s Tom Izzo had the highest salary in the Big Ten.

Holtzman’s contract extension comes with Ohio State football coach Ryan Day Receive an extension He tied Mel Tucker for the Big Ten’s highest-paid football coach.

“I’ve always felt that we need to compensate our coaches, especially football and basketball, in line with our expectations for being at the top of the conference. And I really felt like they both (Holtmann and Day) got that opportunity,” Smith said. “I’m a big believer in stability. If we can maintain some stability over time, good coaches have a great opportunity to build culture the right way, and that’s a really beautiful thing. So I’m excited.

“It’s a different world than it was 10, 15, 20 years ago, or in terms of the ecosystem that we served in, or recruiting and transfer portals or the NFL and all of those things. So stability is critical, especially during times of change. So I wanted to make sure we had two good coaches. They’ve been with us for a while and I think it’s always fair to make adjustments that match the market and expectations.

With five Big Ten regular-season titles, four conference tournament championships and two Final Four appearances on the nightly roster, Smith-Holtzman knows all too well that his predecessor hasn’t reached the heights he reached in Columbus. Even if injuries to key players weren’t a factor last year, Smith thinks the Buckeyes could have gone deeper in the NCAA Tournament.

Smith mentioned Judge Swing, a sixth-year forward who missed all but two games last season with a hernia problem. Sueing enters the season as the top-two scorer on the team and do everything that matters most for the Buckeyes.

“You just have to pay attention to things around the program. Basketball is very fragile with injuries and it would have been a different story for us if we didn’t have some players hurt at the end of last year,” Smith said. His leadership and his intelligence on the floor with the young pups we just got.

The young players Smith mentioned include five freshmen, four of whom are ranked among the 65 overall prospects in the 2022 class, along with Bruce Thornton, Roddy Gayle, Felix Okpara, Brice Sensabaugh and Bowen Hardman all arriving this summer. Combined with three transfer portal additions, Ohio State has eight new scholarship players on the 2022-23 roster.

Despite that mix of top-level talent on paper, betting on a career-best season for Holtzman might not be wise given the number of new faces he’ll have to assemble in such a short period of time. Not to mention, the Buckeyes lost two of their best players — EJ Liddell and Malachi Branham — from a year ago. to the NBA draft In June.

Between the head coach and the new core, Smith still has a lot of faith in this year’s team and the future of the program.

“They’re brilliant, I’ve seen them work. Smith: I know how good these guys are. But you need to try to catch them and play them. Chris and I talked about it a little bit, we always have student-athletes that come through the transfer portal, but when you take a class like he did, you just have to play them and take the injuries that you have. They take it because they are young and inexperienced.

“But you’re building for the future and that’s what it’s all about.”

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