For the past five years, Mike Netti has served on the Ohio State bench. Often he was stuck between the players and Quadrian Banks, the team’s strength and conditioning coach.
That changes this year. After half a decade as a special assistant to the head coach, Netti has been officially announced as the final full-time member of Chris Holtmann’s coaching staff. The move is a continuation of a relationship between the two that dates back around two decades and one Netti said he was ready to take on.
When the 2022-23 season opens, he will occupy a different seat with different expectations and duties. However, not everything will change.
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“The biggest change will be that I can now coach our players,” Netti told The Dispatch after his promotion was officially announced on Thursday. “I was able to train the coaches. I was able to continue to provide insight into basketball as a special assistant and now that mentorship, that leadership will now be for our players.
This is not the first time that Netti has been an assistant. He filled the role at Gardner-Webb, both alongside and under Holtmann, and had been at East Carolina for four seasons before signing when Holtmann was hired in 2017. In doing so, Netti gave up his whistle for a job. which involved a lot of time behind a computer, helping Holtmann and the coaching staff in myriad ways.
As a special assistant, Netti was able to help mentor the guys off the pitch and provide academic assistance. At coaching staff meetings, he was able to bring another informed voice to the discussion after diving deep into the video and helping to strategize game plans.
Now he will be in front of the team alongside Holtmann, associate head coach Jake Diebler and new assistant Jack Owens trying to bring it all to life.
“It’s exciting to have a bigger role in coaching on the pitch,” he said. “I believe in our staff. I believe in our program. I believe in our players. It’s a healthy culture, and the staff were connected and selfless and that made this move really easy.
In a statement, Holtmann praised Netti for his rise through the coaching ranks since his days as a junior college coach. Netti worked “in almost every aspect of a college basketball team,” Holtmann said. “Mike has great contacts across the country and is great at developing skills and players. We are excited about this new role for him.
He got a taste of the role last season when Holtmann and assistant coach Ryan Pedon were forced to miss a Jan. 9 home game with Northwestern after testing positive for COVID-19. During their absences, Diebler was promoted to interim coach and Netti assumed in-game assistant coaching responsibilities as the Buckeyes secured a 95-87 victory.
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Netti said he was so engrossed in the offensive game that he was surprised to watch the media’s first timeout and see EJ Liddell scoring 17 points in under six minutes.
“That game, stepping up from a seat, doing my best in a role that we needed that night was natural for me,” Netti said. “I’ve been in that seat before, and so coach (Holtmann) trusted me that night and coach Diebler obviously did a great job leading the program, leading the team tonight. I think executing that game plan, delivering the game plan and then obviously trusting our guys that night, it was a fun night to be a part of.
Speaking to reporters after freshman Malaki Branham declared himself for the NBA draft on April 27, Holtmann said he had an idea of how he planned to divide the responsibilities of coach on his staff, but refused to share it. Netti said most of his time has been spent on recruiting and in-game responsibilities will be finalized later.
It wasn’t the first full-time assistant position Netti had been considered for since moving to Ohio State, but this time he said the situation seemed right for him.
“The timing was perfect right now,” he said. “We have a very strong staff. I think this move happened organically and it was the perfect time.
And while the title is different, Netti said her reasons for the job haven’t changed.
“I’ve always coached because of the love of relationships,” he said. “The reason you try to make your players look their best is because you love them, you love them as people, you want them to look their best, but you want a lifetime relationship with that individual.
“It takes time and it has to be authentic. We believe in these relationships.