Diebler steps in and secures first career coaching victory at Holtmann, in Pedon’s absence – The Lantern
Ahead of the Ohio State No.13 game on Sunday, there were a few absolutes: The Buckeyes were playing Northwestern, the game was scheduled for 5:30 p.m. and interim head coach Jake Diebler was nervous.
Diebler said things calmed down when the game started, leading Ohio State to a 95-87 victory in their first victory as a head coach.
“I get nervous before every game to be honest,” Diebler said. “There is a deep-rooted passion and love for this game, so there are always nerves before every game for me. There were definitely more in that game, but I talked to the (head) coach (Chris Holtmann) all the time and he gave me a lot of confidence.
The last 48 hours for Diebler have been a whirlwind. After the Buckeyes’ 67-51 loss to the Bloomington, Indiana Hoosiers on Thursday, Holtmann and assistant coach Ryan Pedon – who missed Sunday’s game in team’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols – were not available for practice on Saturday, meaning he and the other assistants ran the show.
Diebler said in Saturday practice that there was still uncertainty over the duo’s status for the Buckeyes’ game against the Wildcats. Once they knew they were going to miss the game, however, Diebler said there was a lot of communication between all the coaches.
“Once we found out that they weren’t actually going to be there, it became like a lot of phone calls, a lot of zooms in, a lot of talking throughout last night and throughout. today, ”said Diebler. “We knew it was a possibility yesterday before practice, and the guys got to hear our voices as we got ready for the game and that’s when it started.”
Junior forward EJ Liddell said Saturday’s practice was where the team rallied.
“Yesterday in practice we just locked ourselves in,” Liddell said. “All the older guys kept us all in the line and just told us to play hard no matter what, and we resumed since the coach wasn’t there.”
Diebler, whose brother Jon is the Ohio State all-time 3-point record holder, coached in several titles before joining Holtmann’s team in 2019. He worked at Valparaiso from 2010 to 2013 before that. his first stint with the Buckeyes from 2014 to 2016. as video coordinator.
From there, Diebler secured his first assistant coaching job with Vanderbilt from 2017-19, using his playing time and the knowledge of his father, Keith – who coached high school basketball in Ohio for almost 40 years – to get a position in the three Holtmann team. years ago.
There could have been more difficult situations for a coach, but Diebler was lucky catching up with Liddell in the middle of a career-high 34 points.
Diebler said “It certainly helps EJ” ease his pre-game nervousness, as the Belleville, Illinois native hit each of his first six shots – five of 3 – to bring it up to 17 points. during the first five minutes of the game, giving the Buckeyes an early 19-11 advantage en route to the eight-point victory.
Northwestern head coach Chris Collins said he didn’t think the Wildcats had an advantage no matter who coached the Buckeyes on Sunday.
“To be completely honest, I never look the other way,” Collins said. “They have a great staff. I mean, Jake is a hell of a coach. I know Jake, he’s really good.
Diebler said that before the game he got a lot of advice from a lot of people, but some of the best advice came from the one he said he wasn’t trying to be: Holtmann. He said the Buckeyes skipper told him, ‘Hey, be yourself’, and that helped Diebler establish his identity as a coach.
However, Diebler couldn’t take full credit for the victory, praising the man who handed him the whistle.
“Tonight was a lot of fun. I can’t say it enough, ”said Diebler. “Our staff, the collective group that we have, our upper class students, the culture that Coach Holtmann has built here, as if anyone could do it, it would be us. We were confident in this; we were confident as staff and I think our players were confident. So yeah give our guys credit, Coach Holtmann had his fingerprints all over this game and so he deserves a ton of credit too.