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Men’s Basketball: Holtmann to evaluate ‘very experimental’ rotations for Bahamas exhibition games

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Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann yells from the sidelines with less than thirty seconds left on the clock during the Ohio State-Akron Game Nov. 9, 2021. Ohio State won 67-66. Photo Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Lantern File Photo

It’s yet to be determined if head coach Chris Holtmann will don a Hawaiian shirt when the Buckeyes tip off in Maui mid-November, but for now, he’ll settle for a lab coat.

The Buckeyes head coach gets to moonlight as a mad scientist with six true freshmen on the roster and a “variety of lineups” at his disposal as Ohio State heads to the Bahamas for two summer exhibition games beginning Thursday.

“This is going to be very experimental, and we’re going to tinker with some things,” Holtmann said. “And there’s only so much you can do in two games and 10 practices.”

Holtmann said the trip will provide much needed practice time and an opportunity to play different rotations without a finalized starting lineup going into the 2022-23 season.

“We’ve divided up our two teams in practice pretty evenly and it’s very likely that the next three days will determine what group we start,” Holtmann said. “It’s going to be a rotation that’s going to be a little more full than it typically is.”

However, Ohio State isn’t preparing for a stroll on the beach — Holtmann said welcoming strong competition will serve as a good reference point.

“We said, ‘Hey, just give us the best teams that you have there,’ so we believe the Egyptian national team and the Puerto Rican national team will both be really good teams and good measures for us as a group,” Holtmann said.

Holtmann said forwards redshirt senior Justice Sueing and graduate Seth Towns won’t play in the Bahamas but are expected to be fully cleared by September.

Besides Sueing, Towns and junior guard Eugene Brown III, who “may be on a minutes restrictions,” Holtmann said the Buckeyes “should have everybody pretty much ready to go.”

The freshmen expected to play have had good moments in practice, Holtmann said — including freshman forward Brice Sensabaugh, a “natural-born scorer of the ball” who “can do it at an elite level right now.”

“He has to continue to work on other aspects of his game, including his fitness and his conditioning, but has some real natural gifts offensively,” Holtmann said.

Holtmann said freshman center Felix Okpara, who offers a “legit 6-foot-11” presence, is a good athlete, but he also has room for improvement protecting the ball.

“He’s done some really good things,” Holtmann said. “His body is continuing to take shape but he’s going to have some growing pains this year, as all those guys are, for sure.”

Sans two veteran forwards, Holtmann expects the team’s incoming youth to show, for better or worse, but likely won’t completely know until the season starts.

“I think we’ll learn a little bit through some of the game reps we get here,” Holtmann said. “I think we’ll see some of that inexperience. But as far as what that transition is fully going to look like I don’t not sure we’ll fully know until we get to November games.”

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