The Basketball Podcast: EP72 Chris Holtmann on Building Programs

RELEASE DATE : 11/12/2019

In this week’s coaching conversation, Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann joins The Basketball Podcast to discuss how his how he has built his programs at Gardner-Webb, Butler and Ohio State.  Coach Holtmann begins his third season at the helm of the Buckeyes in 2019-20. His two seasons at Ohio State have followed the blueprint established during his tenures at both Gardner-Webb and Butler — Success.

He was named the 2018 Big Ten Coach of the Year after leading the Buckeyes to a 25-9 overall record, a No. 2 finish in the Big Ten regular-season standings (15-3) and a Second Round appearance in the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Holtmann teams have won an opening-round game in the NCAA Tournament in each of the last five years, a feat accomplished by a select group of Division I coaches.

In three seasons at Butler, Holtmann compiled a record of 70-31 as a member of the BIG EAST conference. In eight years as a head coach, which includes three years at Gardner-Webb (44-54) and two in Columbus (45-24), his career record is 159-109. His teams have won at least 20 games in each of the last six seasons.

Butler advanced to the NCAA Tournament in all three seasons with Holtmann as the head coach. He was the 2016-17 BIG EAST Coach of the Year, the 2013 Big South Conference Coach of the Year and a Naismith National Coach of the Year Finalist in 2014-15. At Gardner-Webb for three seasons from 2010-13, leading the Runnin’ Bulldogs to a school Division I record 21 victories in his final season after taking over a program that won just eight games in 2009-10.

Learn more about Ohio State basketball from assistant coach Ryan Pedon:

Masterclass with Ryan Pedon on Offensive Transition

Chris Holtmann Quotes:

“Do today well and preparing yourself for what may come next.”

“My college coach called it ‘the monotony of excellence’ . . this idea of do your work consistently on a day-to-day basis as well as you can and, ultimately, you’ll get what you’ve earned and you’ll be ready for the next step.”

“There are some specifics in how we want to play . . We want to dominate effort plays . . We want to be a great teammate . . We want to set the rules of the game in terms of our approach, our toughness and how we attack . . We want to play with an edge.”

“Caring for our players is not a means to an end. We’re not trying to care for our players so that they’ll play harder for us. We’re just trying to care for our players . . because that’s our responsibility.

“Part of caring for players is having really hard conversations . . and honest, heart-to-heart, one-on-one conversations.”

“As much as possible we’re trying to address any conflict as early as possible.

“You’re trying to prepare your players, your team, and really everybody in your program for the reality of the environment that we all . . work in every day – and that is the highest competitive environment.”

“We’re asking kids to do things that are hard and difficult and demanding. There’s going to be conflict.”

“As much as anything, we’re trying to normalize struggle.”

“We have tried to be as consistent as possible [in recruiting] fit . . we are looking for skill, we are looking for feel and IQ and an understanding of how to play. And we’re looking for guys who are interested in playing in part of a team environment.”

“The best teams are practicing their best toward the end of the season . . while it’s limited in time, their attention to detail, their effort is the very best in February and March.”

“Any time you have a difficult year on a certain end of the floor, defensively or offensively, you have to make sure you’re not overcorrecting.”

“If we can get our team older, and in some ways, smarter when it comes to understanding how to play, there will be a lot more freedom.”

“What we’ve tried to do . . is to teach basic concepts within how we want to play.”

“For us, our offense has to be more diverse for us to be better.”

“The idea that you can give a team a consistent, steady look of any specific way [of defending the pick and roll] is a little bit dangerous and not one that is effective.”

“Your players want to know that you have an answer about how a team may adjust to your coverage.”

“If you’re a coach and you’re not consistently self-evaluating, then you’re probably not practicing what you’re preaching to your players on a regular basis.”

Chris Holtmann Selected Links from the Podcast:

Paul Patterson

Taylor University

Frosty Westering

Don Meyer


Brandon Miller

Michael Lewis

Terry Johnson

Emerson Kampen

Brandon Crone

Barry Collier

Butler University

The Butler Way

Mike Netti

Kaleb Wesson

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Chris Holtmann Breakdown:

1:00 – Doing a Good Job Where you Are
3:00 – Present Focus
5:00 – Unique Path
7:00 – Going Backwards to go Forwards
8:40 – Applying Core Culture Concepts
10:40 – Non-Negotiables
12:00 – Helping his Players Turn Around Their Situations
14:00 – Difference Between Transfers vs Regular Players
16:30 – Dealing with Conflict
19:00 – Competitive Environments
21:00 – Coping Strategies for Players
22:30 – Evolving his Style
24:00 – Recruiting
26:00 – March Madness
28:00 – Physical and Mental Training
30:30 – More 5-on-5 
32:00 – What you Run Behind What you Run
35:00 – Teaching Basic Concepts
38:00 – Pick and Roll Defense
41:00 – Switching
43:00 – Trial and Error
44:00 – Forecast the Next Years
46:00 – The New 3-Point Line
48:00 – Conclusion

Chris Holtmann:


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