Three- guard line­ups ap­peal to Holt­mann

The Columbus Dispatch - - Front Page - By Adam Jardy 4 P.M. TO­DAY Value City Arena Big Ten Net­work WBNS-FM/AM (97.1/1460) Ohio State 1-0; Pur­due Fort Wayne 1-1 The Buck­eyes have won 14 straight home open­ers. Their last loss came to Ge­or­gia Tech on Dec. 3, 2003. … Sopho­more Kaleb Wes­son suf

The evo­lu­tion of high- level bas­ket­ball has started to take root at Ohio State.

Af­ter his first sea­son coach­ing the Buck­eyes, Chris Holt­mann was dis­cussing 2018 na­tional cham­pion Vil­lanova and its free- flow­ing of­fense that prizes ver­sa­til­ity above all else.

The way the Wild­cats play, he said, was some­thing to be val­ued and emu­lated if pos­si­ble.

“I want to add as many ver­sa­tile pieces as pos­si­ble — of­fen­sively and de­fen­sively,” he said in April. “Guys that can play mul­ti­ple po­si­tions.”

That has meant a mis­sion for cen­ter Kaleb Wes­son to im­prove his perime­ter game, some­thing he showed Wed­nes­day in a sea­son-open­ing win at Cincin­nati. But the more-pro­nounced ef­fect on the Ohio State ro­ta­tion as it en­ters its home opener Sun­day against Pur­due Fort Wayne has been in the back­court, where Holt­mann ex­ten­sively de­ployed guard-heavy line­ups against the Bearcats and fig­ures to con­tinue to do so.

The Buck­eyes have four re­cruited schol­ar­ship play­ers who would be clas­si­fied as guards: grad­u­ate trans­fer Keyshawn Woods, se­nior C. J. Jack­son and fresh­men Luther Muham­mad and Duane Washington Jr. In a 40-minute game, Ohio State used a lineup that con­tained three of those four play­ers for 28: 26, al­most 75 per­cent.

Holt­mann said he was just look­ing for his best ball han­dlers and shoot­ers but added, “I ex­pect that we’ll play three- guard line­ups for a good part of the year.”

On Fri­day, as the Buck­eyes got back to prac­tice, he said the Game pre­view

Pur­due Fort Wayne at Ohio State

Where: TV: Ra­dio:

Records: No­table: Pro­jected starters OHIO STATE line­ups are a re­flec­tion of the ef­fort to sim­ply get his best play­ers on the court as much as pos­si­ble.

And yes, that group in­cludes two fresh­men — for now, at least.

“That can change, too,” he said. “We could look and this guy could be play­ing bet­ter ( than some­one else). It’s not a state­ment that I would say right now be­cause we’re play­ing three guards that’s our ( best). The start­ing lineup will be fluid through­out the sea­son, and I think the ro­ta­tion will be fairly fluid through­out the sea­son. That’s def­i­nitely dif­fer­ent than it was last year.”

The line­ups have meant play­ers such as sopho­more Musa Jal­low and ju­nior An­dre Wes­son, who saw play­ing time at shoot­ing guard and small for­ward last sea­son, re­spec­tively, logged some min­utes at power for­ward.

“We’ve got a bunch of ver­sa­tile pieces that can play a lot of dif­fer­ent po­si­tions,” An­dre Wes­son said. “Me and Moose, go­ing into the sea­son we knew that with some of the losses we had that we were go­ing to have to play more of the 4 and some dif­fer­ent roles. It’s some­thing we’ve got to ad­just to and pick up.”

Holt­mann pri­mar­ily used two line­ups against Cincin­nati: his start­ing group, which con­sisted of Jack­son, Muham­mad, Kyle Young and the Wes­son broth­ers, and the same group with Woods in place of An­dre Wes­son. The starters were on the court for 9: 02, just one sec­ond longer than the sec­ond group.

The ro­ta­tion was af­fected some­what by the loss of Micah Pot­ter, who an­nounced his de­ci­sion to trans­fer from the pro­gram two days be­fore the opener, “but we had went into the sea­son think­ing we could play ( that way),” Holt­mann said. “Plenty of teams play four guards, three guards, what­ever you want to look at it.”

Count Ohio State among them now.

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