DAYTON – Chris Holtmann interrupted the question with a prompt response: “Eighty-eight.” This well-practiced answer is a statistical reference that has become deeply ingrained in the mind of Ohio State’s men’s basketball coach. Holtmann’s immediate recall not only reflected the recently concluded charity exhibition game but also hinted at the inevitable follow-up inquiries.
For the first time since 1988, when Holtmann was a junior in high school, the Flyers hosted the Buckeyes on their home court. Although the game was unofficial, both coaches freely substituted players, and Dayton’s administration publicly urged home fans to treat the visitors with respect befitting the occasion.
This specific game aimed to raise funds and awareness for mental health causes, and Dayton coach Anthony Grant initiated it. Grant’s call to Holtmann secured Ohio State’s participation. Ohio State won the game 78-70 in a sold-out UD Arena.
Then, the question arose: when is the rematch? Grant didn’t express much interest in addressing the topic immediately after the game. He stated, “The last thing I want is for somebody to take this somewhere it shouldn’t be with some silly conversation about, ‘Well, they should do this.’ That’s not what today was about at all. I’m grateful for Chris. I’m grateful for the Ohio State University helping us hopefully make a difference.”
It’s worth mentioning that Ohio State has played in Dayton more recently. In the 2013 NCAA Tournament, the Buckeyes triumphed over Iona and Iowa State in the first two rounds that took place in Dayton. However, their last encounter with the Flyers didn’t yield positive results. On March 20, 2014, during a first-round NCAA Tournament showdown in Buffalo, No. 11 seed Dayton defeated Ohio State 60-59.
Overall, Ohio State has a 4-3 record in official games at UD Arena and a 4-3 all-time record against the Flyers.
Leading into this exhibition game, Holtmann expressed openness to scheduling a home-and-home series with the Flyers. However, the specific details remain uncertain, even though Holtmann jokingly mentioned that a few extra-interested observers were hesitant to let him leave without a plan.
Holtmann commented, “It was hard to get out of the arena without several of them grabbing me and asking me if we had signed the contract for the next home-and-home agreement yet. It’s something we’ll definitely consider. We love to play good teams, top-50 NET teams, in home-and-homes, NCAA Tournament teams, and that’s what I believe this Dayton team will be this year.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the two programs came close to agreeing on a game when teams struggled to find opponents on short notice. However, a combination of injuries and positive COVID tests ultimately led to the cancellation of the game.
Holtmann has previously scheduled home-and-home series with Cincinnati and played at Xavier as part of the Gavitt Games during his first six years at Ohio State. He spoke highly of the Dayton fans and their hospitality, praising UD Arena’s environment as one of the best in the country.
“I’ve been involved in college basketball for 25 years, and for 25 years, I’ve known that this place is one of the greatest basketball environments in the sport,” Holtmann remarked. “The Dayton fans were incredible. They didn’t need to be too nice. I appreciate how hospitable this place was.”
Should the home-and-home series materialize, the Buckeyes won’t receive the same warm reception in Dayton. However, that was inconsequential on Sunday night.
Holtmann commended the Dayton administration, stating, “I give their administration a lot of credit just because I thought it was clear what this game was about.”
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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: After charity game, will Ohio State, Dayton play home-and-home series?
Laura Davis covers the world of basketball with precision. Her articles explore NBA and college basketball, offering game analysis, player profiles, and highlights. Laura’s passion for hoops is evident in her comprehensive basketball coverage.