Feb 27, 2017
In women’s college basketball, is there a more overlooked team heading into post-season tournament play than the Ohio State Buckeyes?
If the season is meant to build momentum heading into March and April, then Kevin McGuff’s team is doing something right. They sit at 25-5 overall, their only losses coming at the hands of top ten teams UConn, South Carolina, and Baylor, top twenty-five Miami, and rival Michigan State. They enter the Big 10 tournament winners of eleven in a row, including Maryland, who they shared the regular season conference title with.
That Maryland game may have opened some eyes. The Buckeyes came out strong, asserted control, and held off a surging Terrapins team to win 98-87 over the number two ranked team in the country.
Even then though, due to Maryland’s schedule and the weak Big 10 season, more people said Maryland is not that good, not that Ohio State was a top team.
Frequently, Kelsey Mitchell, the Ohio State leader and All-American candidate is referred to as a shoot-first player, not a passer, or a volume shooter. In fact, Mitchell’s scoring numbers are down this year as she distributes more, her assists per game are up, and her turnovers are way down.
Ohio State is a team with transfers and freshmen getting significant playing time, and instead of recognizing the amount of time it takes to blend these individual games into a cohesive unit, again heard frequently were comments that McGuff could recruit, but was not a great coach. His teams have made the postseason all but one year, his first at Ohio State. At Ohio State, his teams improved from not making the tournament, to the second round in the NCAA tourney, to last season’s Sweet Sixteen performance.
This team has potential to go deeper than that. Besides Mitchell, senior Shayla Cooper has become an outstanding second option, and has played herself into a possible WNBA first round draft choice. Sierra Calhoun, Stephanie Mavunga, and Linnae Harper are three of those transfers we mentioned above that are playing vital roles in the team success. Mavunga is currently injured, and that is a potential problem down the road as she clogs the paint on the defensive end in particular.
The team really took off when freshman Kiara Lewis moved into the starting lineup, with junior Asia Doss coming off the bench. Lewis gives more of a spark to start the game, and Doss’ experience anchors the second unit.
With Mavunga down it’s been a second freshman, Tori McCoy who has thrived. Inconsistent through the first half of the season, McCoy has improved considerably and is a strong inside presence in her own right.
It is a pleasure to welcome Kevin McGuff back to Dishin & Swishin. Topics discussed on the podcast include:
The postseason is here!!!
Enjoy the podcast!
Photo courtesy of Big 10 conference