Ohio State excited about ‘unique’ Bahamas trip

The Ohio State men’s basketball team won’t officially tip off the 2022-23 season until early November, but the Buckeyes are already hard at work preparing for the year. Chris Holtmann will take advantage of a rule allowing teams to travel internationally every four or five years to get in some extra practice time before the preseason really ramps up.

From Thursday, Aug. 4 through Tuesday, Aug. 9, the Scarlet and Gray will be in Paradise Island in the Bahamas. The team then returns to Columbus before the fall semester begins. From there, the schedule will look close to normal as Ohio State prepares for the start of the new year.

“We are excited about this trip,” Holtmann said before practice on Monday.

“I love the beach, I do. And guys will tell you, there’s a lot of exempt tours, Kansas City, a lot of different events. There’s a reason why we’re going to sunny places. If I have control over it, that’s where we’re going to go.”

While it will be nice to have some fun and enjoy the Bahamas, the Buckeyes view this as a business trip. During the time in Paradise Island, the Scarlet and Gray will play exhibition games against both the Egyptian and Puerto Rican national teams.

The two contests will provide some early tests without the pressure of games that will come later on.

“It’s unique,” ​​Holtmann said of this trip. “I talked to a couple of different coaches and they talked about wanting to play a couple different teams and for us, we said, ‘Hey just give us the best teams that you have there.’ So we believe that the Egyptian national team and the Puerto Rican national team will both be really good teams, a good measure for us as a group.”

While these games will be important for the team, Holtmann is most excited about the time to practice with his group. Before and during the trip, Ohio State is allowed 10 total practices. So far, the Buckeyes have used that time wisely and scrimmaged against some of the former Scarlet and Gray players that are in town a few times.

Part of one of those practices was open to the media on Monday. One noticeable thing was the presence of forwards Justice Sueing and Seth Towns, two graduate seniors who missed all or most of last year with injuries. Both players were out on the court and working with the rest of the group during the time the media was permitted to watch.

While neither Sueing nor Towns will take part in the games in the Bahamas, as they return from abdomen and back surgeries respectively, both are on track to be back before the season begins.

The only other player dealing with an injury is Eugene Brown III.

“As far as roster and status updates right now, we have everybody practicing right now in some capacity,” Holtmann said. “We have Justice and Seth who are practicing but they are somewhat limited in what they can do. Justice and Seth will not play in the two games in the Bahamas; they won’t be fully cleared. We do expect them to be fully cleared by September. I don’t anticipate any issue there. Gene may be on a minute restriction. Outside of that, we should have everybody pretty much ready to go as long as we stay healthy these next couple days of practice.”

Without Sueing and Towns playing and Brown on a minute restriction, there won’t be a number of familiar faces taking the court for the Scarlet and Gray in the Bahamas, not that fans will be able to watch these exhibition games as they are not being broadcasts. Junior center Zed Keywho Holtmann said has stepped up as a leader and is being encouraged to shoot more from the outside this offseason, is the only other player that has any experience playing for Ohio State.

This is another reason Holtmann is glad the Buckeyes are going on this pre-preseason trip. Between the freshman class and transfers, the Scarlet and Gray have eight scholarship players that weren’t on the roster last year, meaning there needs to be time to build chemistry.

Holtmann sees a trip out of the country with basketball as the primary focus as the perfect place to continue to do that.

“It’s really important,” Holtmann said. “That and I think the practices… Just the opportunity to play some of those guys. Most coaches will tell you that on these trips that it’s the practices that are most valuable. Coaches can script who they play. I had a coach tell me, ‘I want to play two teams that we’re definitely going to beat so our team has great confidence.’ I’m not concerned about that. We’ll just play who we play and go from there.”

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Given the number of new players, Holtmann said this trip will be very experimental. So far in practice, Ohio State has divided up into two teams to mix up guys and there will be more of that in the Bahamas. The rotations in the games will also be much deeper than they would when the games actually matter.

“We think we’re playing two good teams. We’re excited about that,” Holtmann said. “We hope that we come out of this with a group that’s closer and has some time spent together and some fun and where we learned something about our guys.”

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