Holtmann named top coach of 2018

Ohio State plays Michigan State at the Schottenstein Center on January 7, 2018 in Columbus, Ohio

Justin Chapman | Echo

Taylor alumnus and Ohio State men’s basketball head coach Chris Holtmann (’94) is the recipient of the 2018 Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year award.

This award is presented annually to the top coach in men’s Division I basketball, the highest division in college sports.

Dan Wallenberg, the associate athletic director for communications at Ohio State, understands how tough it is to receive this award, especially in an entirely new setting.

“For (Holtmann) to come in, in his first year and really have to learn an entirely new system of operating in the university setting, while still coaching an entirely new roster of players, (is) a remarkable accomplishment,” Wallenberg said.

While the Jim Phelan award is a highly prestigious award to win, Holtmann is focused on his job and does not want to get caught up in the awards.

Whether it is during the season or off-season, Holtmann owns many responsibilities either way and does not want to let his attention be diverted to something else besides the work he needs to carry out.

“I think maybe down the road after the season or after my career, I’ll be able to reflect back on some of those things, but not as much in the midst of it,” Holtmann said.

The competition for this award is packed with well-regarded coaches throughout men’s Division I basketball, including Jay Wright, the head coach of the 2018 National Champion Villanova Wildcats.

However, Holtmann’s resume for this year stands alone. He helped the Ohio State Buckeyes finish second in the Big Ten conference. The Buckeyes also started Big Ten conference play with nine straight wins. This year is a major improvement to last year, considering the Buckeyes finished 11th in the Big Ten in the 2016–17 season.

Holtmann brought the Buckeyes’ overall record to 25–9 this year overall and 15–3 within conference play after last year’s 17–15 and 7–11 finish, respectively.

While Holtmann’s experience at Ohio State has been a successful one so far, it is a very busy job.

“It’s been a blur,” Holtmann said. “It’s just been one thing right after the other, in a good way. It’s just been extremely, extremely busy.”

While the position is time consuming, Holtmann emphasized how great the opportunity is.

Holtmann is thankful for the opportunities so far in his coaching career. He wants to coach at places that allow him to coach through his beliefs. He credits Taylor for forming him into the coach he is today.

“My experiences at Taylor, playing for (former Taylor men’s basketball head coach) Paul Patterson, and being at a great university, really helped form, in a lot of ways, what my coaching philosophy is,” Holtmann said. “I want to be true to what I believe in as a coach, and I want to coach to my convictions. I think people, if they were to describe me as a coach, they would probably say: honest and demanding.”

When Holtmann played at Taylor, the team was highly successful and even reached the No. 1 ranking in the nation in the NAIA during Holtmann’s senior season in 1993–94.

Holtmann also received NAIA All-American honors his senior season.

“My experiences there were so instrumental in forming my belief system,” Holtmann said. “I think that playing for a coach that was as demanding as coach Patterson and in a program as demanding as the program was, you appreciate it. If you’re going to be successful, then there’s going to be a lot required of you.”

From 1999–2003, Holtmann helped coach the Trojans under Patterson. In the last two seasons, Holtmann helped guide the Trojans to a 50–16 record and back-to-back conference titles.

Holtmann praises Taylor for developing many people into great leaders in their fields and vocations. He recognizes people need God-given abilities to do well in life; however, Taylor helps emphasize the need for a good work ethic and commitment.

Ever since Holtmann left Taylor, he has continued to climb the ladder and receive recognition for his coaching abilities. This only makes sense, considering the past five seasons he has been a head coach for a team, the team’s record ended with at least 20 wins or more.

In the past three conferences Holtmann has coached in, he has received the conference’s coach of the year award, including the Big South, Big East and Big Ten conferences.
Holtmann and Ohio State’s season ended this year in the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a loss to Gonzaga by the score of 90–84. Holtmann and his team will begin the 2018–19 season next winter and will prepare to make a deeper run into the tournament.

“Photograph provided by Dan Wallenberg”