Scarlet Sunrise: Purdue's Matt Painter believes 'future is bright' for Ohio State

On3 imageby:Andy Backstrom03/14/23

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Purdue’s Matt Painter believes ‘future is bright’ for Ohio State

Big Ten champion and No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed Purdue beat Ohio State three times this season. First the Boilermakers escaped The Schottenstein Center with a one-possession win in January, then they blew out the Buckeyes in Mackey Arena in February and, last but not least, they ended Ohio State’s magical Big Ten Tournament run to the semifinals in the United Center last week.

That said, Purdue head coach Matt Painter thinks bigger days are on the horizon for the Buckeyes.

“I think you can see the future of Ohio State with [Felix] Okpara, [Roddy] Gayle and Bruce Thornton,” Painter said postgame, following the Boilermakers’ 80-66 win over the Buckeyes this past Saturday.

“They’ve got a great class coming, and they’ve got a great coach. They lost a lot of close games this year, and some people got them. But I think you can see the future of Ohio State and how good they’re going to be.”

Ohio State started the season 10-3 before losing 14 of its next 15 games — a stretch that included a nine-game losing streak, the Buckeyes’ longest skid since 1997-98. But head coach Chris Holtmann’s team finally turned things around, despite negativity swirling around the program and, at the time, only a few weeks remaining in the regular season.

The Buckeyes closed the year 5-2, becoming the lowest seed in Big Ten Tournament history to reach the semifinals. They did that with one true center — Zed Key was out for the year since Feb. 16 — and they even pulled the upset over Michigan State in the quarterfinal without leading scorer and projected first-round NBA Draft pick Brice Sensabaugh, who injured his knee the previous round.

So when Ohio State faced Purdue for its fourth game in four days, Painter knew the Buckeyes didn’t have their best lineup or their freshest legs. Still, he thought the effort Ohio State turned in showed how far the Buckeyes have come in 2022-23, and what they have to offer next season.

“This time wasn’t their best lineup, but it was their best version,” Painter said postgame. “You get to a certain point in the season where people understand about sacrificing and doing things that affect winning. I think with their youth and their injuries, it took them a little bit longer. Then when you lose closer games, it affects you differently.”

Painter continued: “Then obviously the way they’ve played here in this tournament just shows you how good of a coach he is, first of all, and all the pieces that they have, even when they’re shorthanded. Like how does this look with Zed Key out there and Brice Sensabaugh? That’s a tough cover. We were struggling to guard them today. You add those two pieces, and you’re really going to struggle.”

Painter isn’t the first coach to compliment Holtmann this season. A handful of Big Ten coaches have spoken extensively about his ability as a head coach, sometimes unprompted. Those remarks have arrived during the most turbulent season of Holtmann’s now-six-year Ohio State tenure.

It was the first time his Buckeyes have missed the NCAA Tournament (they would have made it the year it was canceled because of COVID-19). But the way he and his team ended the year is something for fans to be excited about — and maybe for other Big Ten coaches to worry about.

“Their future is bright,” Painter said. “If you know basketball, you definitely understand that Ohio State — some people got their licks on them this year, but that’s going to come to a screeching halt.

“They have a very, very good young nucleus.”

Five stats to know about Buckeyes Big Ten Tournament run

Ohio State looked like a different team down the stretch of the regular season, and that positive momentum carried into the Big Ten Tournament, where the 13th-seeded Buckeyes defeated Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan State en route to the semifinals.

But how exactly did Ohio State make its four-day run in Chicago? Lettermen Row took a look at the numbers to figure out the trends and stats that defined the Buckeyes’ encouraging tournament ride.

For the full breakdown, go here.

Marvin Harrison Jr. ‘nowhere near’ ceiling for Buckeyes, chasing greatness this spring

After finishing as the runner-up for the Biletnikoff Award last season, Ohio State star Marvin Harrison Jr. is hungry for more in 2023. He has a chance to one-up his 77-catch, 1,263-yard, 14-touchdown sophomore campaign next fall, even with a new quarterback.

“I think the chase he’s on,” said Brian Hartline, Buckeyes offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach. “He’s nowhere near where he wants to be. So in his mind, he doesn’t know what everybody’s celebrating. So you guys are celebrating. But he’s not.

“He’s still on that same chase.”

For the full story, go here.

Counting down

Buckeyes vs. Indiana: 172 days

Buckeyes vs. Michigan: 256 days

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