The Ohio State men's basketball team is leaving for a 10-day tour of Spain that will include three games. It held a public practice Tuesday night in the Schottenstein Center. Rob McCurdy/The Marion StarBuy Photo
Ohio State men's basketball coach Chris Holtmann talks to radio broadcaster Paul Keels about the Buckeyes' upcoming trip to Spain following a public practice Tuesday night at the Schottenstein Center.(Photo: Rob McCurdy/The Marion Star)Buy Photo
COLUMBUS - If ever there was a team that needed to get away, this Ohio State men's basketball group would be one.
It's not that they are harried and stressed. And it's not that they need to refreshed and refocused.
A 10-day trip through Spain is perfect for this team because there are so many new personalities on the roster. With just two established veterans — senior point guard C.J. Jackson and sophomore center Kaleb Wesson — returning, it's a chance to figure things out for head coach Chris Holtmann and his staff.
"I think you have more information to go off of because of these practices and because of these games," Holtmann said Tuesday night after a public practice in the Schottenstein Center. "We’ll be able to say this guy needs a little more work here … both with our new guys and our returning guys. I think in that way it’s a good thing."
The international trip that colleges are allowed to take every four years enables teams to get 10 extra practices in the summer. So this is perfect timing.
Experienced guys like Micah Potter, Musa Jallow, Andre Wesson and Kyle Young who want to increase their roles can use the extra work as can newcomers like grad transfer Keyshawn Woods and freshmen Luther Muhammad, Duane Washington Jr., Justin Aherns and Jaedon LeDee.
Just as important, 10 days of travel and three games abroad should be a team-bonding experience.
"Somebody asked me today what would constitute a successful trip and I said ... coming back healthy and (having) a great educational experience and obviously a chance to get to know each other," Holtmann said on the eve of the trip. "That’s what we’re hoping to get out of this trip. It should be a great opportunity for our guys to spend time together as they have all summer and experience a different country."Buy Photo
Ohio State center Kaleb Wesson drives to the basket on Micah Potter and Kyle Young with Jaedon LeDee looking on during a scrimmage in the Schottenstein Center Tuesday night. (Photo: Rob McCurdy/The Marion Star)
Ohio State will tour the Spanish capital of Madrid and its medieval capital of Toledo as well as see Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, the home of soccer power Real Madrid.
They will travel by train to hit the beaches of Valencia and see a bullfighting museum before going to Barcelona for more tours and sailing on a catamaran.
During the visit they will play three games against the Madrid Generals, the Valencia All-Stars and Catalan All-Stars.
"I’ve never been to Spain. I don’t think anybody has that’s on the trip. I’m looking forward to it," Holtmann said.
Besides the basketball, it's a chance to broaden horizons for everyone involved. That's what excites Holtmann even more than the chance to get longer looks at a new-look team.
"I think, honestly as corny as it sounds, seeing our guys that maybe haven’t been out of the country much or at all respond to a new environment. It’s like when you’re going on a trip with your kids and you’re anxious to see how they respond," he said.Buy Photo
Ohio State's Keyshawn Woods dribbles against Duane Washington Jr. during a public practice Tuesday night in the Schottenstein Center. (Photo: Rob McCurdy/The Marion Star)
Holtmann has been on these international trips before. He said he once took his Gardner-Webb team to the Bahamas where he made them do 10 hard practices with film study throughout the journey. He played the games to win.
He learned that's not the way to approach it.
"The lineups will really vary," Holtmann said. "Right now I’m probably going to start the juniors and seniors for that first game. We’ll start three different lineups, and we’ll play everybody about equal time because we’re still learning about our team."
So instead of getting caught up in the minutia of game-planning, the coach is taking a longer view of the experience.
"It’s the chance for all of us to say we got to experience something different, a different culture and a different place," he said. "Education is a broad term, but the more educated we all can be, the better. When you get the chance to experience a different culture and talk to people from a different country who maybe see things in a different way than you do or grew up differently, I think there are advantages to all that."
And if he can learn more about his new-look team and his team can understand each other a little better by the end of it, all the better.
Rob McCurdy covers Ohio State men's basketball for The Marion Star and USA Today Network-Ohio and can be reached at , work 740-375-5158, cell 419-610-0998, Twitter @McMotorsport and Instagram @rob_mccurdy_star.Buy Photo
Rob McCurdy, The Marion Star and USA Today Network-Ohio (Photo: Dave Polcyn / News Journal)
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