Paradise Island, Bahamas – Sometimes well-intentioned plans can be thrown out with an unexpected result.
On the eve of the first two exhibition games at the Atlantis resort, Ohio State men’s basketball coach Chris Holtman wrote a definitive script for practice. Within the Imperial Arena, the site of the annual Battle 4 Atlantis event, Holtman divided the Buckeyes into two equal teams and gave them a challenge. Any team that scored the most 3 throws during a six-minute training session, five of its members will start Saturday’s match against the Egyptian national team. The losing team will then start Sunday’s game against Puerto Rico.
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Chaos ensued. When the last trumpet sounded, both teams stood at 57 each. No clause was drawn up for a tie, and while the players were arguing their own arguments – Kalen Etzler had one spin around that fell after a bell and should count, Team Gray claimed – a new plan was put in place.
In the end, Bryce Sensabao and Colby Baumann hit half-court shots to give Scarlett’s players the win and a starting chance. That means they’ll get their first breakthrough in a team that Holtman said includes some potential two-way NBA players, but positioning the squad wasn’t top of mind for the Buckeyes when the drill began.
“I don’t think anyone cares who started who didn’t,” said Oklahoma state transportation guard Isaac Laikely. “We just don’t want to lose to each other. Even if the start wasn’t at stake, it would have been exactly the same energy.”
Holtmann oversees a team of five freshmen and three transfers while adjusting to two new full-time assistant coaches. While the goal is clearly to come home with two victories, Holtman made it clear to his team the other key things the Buckeyes hope to learn.
How will they deal with adversity? Who can play with whom? Perhaps most importantly: how well do they know each other?
“These are business trips,” said West Virginia transfer guard Sean McNeill, who took a foreign bid trip to Spain with the Mountaineers in 2019. “We try to win games on Saturday and Sunday but at the same time have fun, build team harmony and get to know each other.” “.
McNeil is roommates with new student Roddy Gayle Jr. Likekele pairs up with new student Calin Etzler, and the two discover a mutual appreciation for Michael Jackson’s music. Like McNeil, Likekele made a similar trip when she visited Venice, Rome and Athens in Oklahoma in 2018.
While at Atlantis, the Buckeyes enjoyed more than team meals together. Friday night was scheduled to feature “Beach Bash” with games like a cornhole. Monday will see Ohio State take to the water on a morning catamaran cruise.
In the middle, they’ll play the games but without the veterans Justice Sueing and Seth Towns. Although both were fully active in Friday’s training, they won’t be fully activated until September as they progress from long-term injuries. Games will be played according to FIBA rules and feature four 10-minute quarters, and Ohio State will wear its training jerseys after wearing them Friday for the first time all summer.
Both games will be played at 5pm and neither will be televised or broadcast.
As the drills drew to a close, Sueing did important extra work in shooting with assistant coach Jake Diebler as the players began working their way toward the team lunch. Some stayed on the field for extra shots until Holtmann said, “Go and enjoy the sun!”
On Saturday, they will gather again under the low hanging hall lights and see how they behave. Lakele said he had an idea of what it would look like.
“I think we will look like the most difficult team to play,” he said. “I also think we will look like a team together. I think we will play with a lot of fluidity. We don’t have anyone who likes to catch the ball or any selfish player. Everyone shares it. I think it would be great to see us play at a fast pace.”