We wrap up the Buckeyes regular season with a get together to discuss our feelings about multiple topics. We’re pleased to have Marty Bannister from The Fan in Columbus and the voice of the Buckeyes join us and give his thoughts on the regular season. We also have women’s basketball season ticket holder and superfan Jeff Howell joining us with his insight to our Q&A. I have included links in the participant’s names for their twitters, please follow if you aren’t already! Let’s get started.
Marty - Two things pop to mind right away, the signing of the highly rated freshman recruiting class, led Cincinnati Princeton’s Kelsey Mitchell and Kettering Fairmont’s Makayla Waterman, and then that same week, opening with a win at then 12th ranked, and now 7th ranked, West Virginia. That win came without Raven Ferguson, suspended for the first 3 games, and the Buckeyes played the final 1:20 with only 5 eligible players. That same Mountaineer team won at Baylor this past weekend,snapping the defending champs 35 game home court win streak.
Jeff - To me the highlight of McGuff’s first season was the ability of he and his staff to “coach up” this team. There have obviously been more talented Lady Buckeye teams in the past, but in my 12 years as a season ticket holder I have never seen a Lady Buckeye team with more heart and effort than this year’s team. Let’s face it – other than Ameryst Alston, this team was largely made up of role players, who provided a specific area of expertise: a rebounder – Moore/Adams, a defensive stopper – Craft, an energy person – Scullion, a person who can take someone off the dribble – Raven, a person who can hit an open shot – Ellerbe. None of these had the all around, everything game of Alston. McGuff and his staff were able to get the most out of nothing from this group and for the most part were competitive in every single game. His whole approach to practices, warm-ups prior to the game start, his engaging energy on the bench, etc. were refreshing and will bode well going forward.
Ken - The season opening win against West Virginia. In their first game, they visited a very good team and won an away game. Good times were ahead for us.
Mali - We beat Michigan at Michigan. That’s never ever a bad thing.
Charles - This is a tossup between the season opening win on the road against a good West Virginia team, always good to get a win in your first game as head coach, and the upset of 17th ranked Purdue in the first Big Ten game. Beating a ranked conference foe is a big deal and was made better because it was against Purdue who I possibly hate more than Michigan in women’s basketball.
WVaBuckeye - I have two that are ties from my perspective. First, was the way this team came out and performed to his expectations and that definitely became the catalyst for players who just weren’t going to handle the improvement. I think that’s a positive thing. Second, is the tireless work in which he and staff put in with regards to the class that’s coming in and the two stars transferring. The season and recruiting is a testament to him because he did a lot with very little so to speak.
Marty - The month of February. Buckeyes were 14-and-10 entering the month, and in the NCAA Tournament conversation. They lost 6 of the 7 games played last month, and fell out of post-season consideration.
Jeff - Two things: 1) the fact that the previous coaching staff did not have any recruits coming into this season and 2) The inability to finish games. We would get out to nice leads early, maintain the lead early in the 2nd half, then fall flat. Mainly due to lack of depth on the bench and overall bodies. The Kynard injury hurt us, constant foul trouble by Moore limited her, and overall we wore down. The lack of consistent scorers other than Altson was a problem as well.
Ken - I don’t have a specific point, just the overall inconsistency of play the team had this year. For a team with seven juniors/seniors, it was very disappointing.
Mali - Probably now- the players look gassed, and they’re on a 1-7 skid. Hard to keep young talent motivated and seniors engaged
Charles - The loss to Wisconsin on Super Bowl Sunday. That was a game that we should have won and the loss started the season ending 1-7 skid.
WVaBuckeye – For me the lowest point of the entire season is not getting Kalpana Beach back on the floor. She would have been the difference maker in a lot of those close games this year but I understand not wanting to hurry her back. The losing streak and close games in that time frame took the wind out of the players sails. The lowest point was not having the gas to put away two pretty good teams that the Buckeyes could and should have beaten.
Marty - Surprise player: Martina Ellerbe. Once she became a starter, she showed the ability to knock down a jump shot, play decent defense, and became a solid rebounder. She gained confidence as the season wore on as well, which she seemed to lack last year.
Let me down: Ashley Adams. As a good a post passer as Ohio State has had, at least in my 11 years broadcasting the games, she just never really “got with the program” so to speak this year. When she wanted to, she could be a factor, but it seemed more often than not she just could not bring that type of effort consistently.
Jeff - Ellerbe really came into her own and I think it was because of how she was coached. I really wish she had an additional year of eligibility because she really turned the corner. Her scoring and rebounding was up, she played great defense, brought alot of energy and became a leader on this team.
Raven has let me down. She just has not developed like I thought she would out of HS. Careless mistakes, not taking care of the ball, and trying to go 1 on 3 at times which led to turnovers, offensive charges, etc. She had her moments where she looked great, but she had far more moments where she disappointed.
Ken - Martina Ellerbe’s performance was a pleasant surprise. She went from 13 minutes a game last year to 32 minutes (2nd most on the team) this year, and every facet of her game improved.
Without question, Ashley Adams was the largest let-down. She went from being a starter (+30 minutes per game) last year to being a role player who saw limited action (19 minutes / game). And this on a team that needed frontcourt play..
Mali - Not a surprise, but Amerst Alston had a fantastic (All conference) season.
Cait Craft “let me down” only that I have unreal expectations for anyone named “Craft”.
Charles - While Ameryst Alston was easily the best player this year for the scarlet and grey, that wasn’t really a surprise as she showed plenty of signs last season of being a star in the making. I agree with Ken that Martina Ellerbe was probably the biggest surprise as she proved to be a major contributor on both ends of the court, leading the team in rebounds and being second in terms of blocked shots and third in terms of scoring. She also proved to be a consistent threat from outside which made her a tough matchup at forward for other teams.
WVaBuckeye - I have to go with a tie here only because everyone knows how I feel about Ameryst Alston. Super-star written all over her and she really came from nowhere and is exactly what type of player Coach McGuff wants. The bigger surprise to me this season was Darryce Moore. She stepped up as was needed for her to do and played an important role down the stretch.
The disappointment this season is in Ashley Adams. Expectations were very high for her with a new coach coming in and the need for rebounding strength. I think Ashley was one of the players that just didn’t get what Coach McGuff was wanting. It’s really kind of sad what happened with her during her senior season and in the way she performed. There were a lot of times she would have been the difference maker.
Marty - Well this answer is pretty simple….to get into the NCAA, the Buckeyes have to win the Big 10 tournament. Nothing else will do. As far as the WNIT is concerned, getting to the .500 mark is at least near the top of the list. To do that, the Buckeyes would have to reach, and lose, the tourney title game Sunday.
Jeff - They are NOT getting in the NCAA. They have a shot at getting in the WNIT mainly because of their name. I think they need to win at least one game in the B1G tourney for a WNIT invite. I’m not even sure how many teams go to the WNIT but they have a shot to get in.
Ken - They need a strong run, going deep into the B1G Tourney. They have a winnable game against Northwestern, but Penn State looms next. Sorry, not going to happen. Their season ends before the weekend.
Mali - I’d like to see a couple of wins in the B1G and gauge the “fight” in this team. That’s going to be the most telling in terms of what to expect in the NIT, and may give the team some great things to build on.
Charles - Going 1-7 to finish the regular season means that the only way OSU makes the NCAA tournament is to win the Big Ten tournament and get the automatic bid. The WNIT will be almost as hard to make simply because you need to be .500 to get a bid and the Buckeyes are currently 15-17 meaning that they will have to win three games to get to the tournament title game in order to be able to finish .500 on the year. Northwestern is a very winnable game but after that things get hard, especially for a team that is shorthanded and has struggled with short turn-arounds between games. Still, stranger things have happened in the Big Ten tournament.
WVaBuckeye – I never pick against the Buckeyes no matter what the task is at hand. I am a realistic fan and objective observer too, but I see a lot of possibilities with how this team can finish this season. Mostly they just have to win all of the rest of the games in the B1G and they’re in the NCAA tournament. Anybody can lose on a given day and I believe this team can still be dangerous. They played with and defeated several good teams this year. As fate would have it, I believe this team will be sitting at home after all is said and done. Then the new phase of work will begin with Coach McGuff’s rebuilding of the program, next stop . . . Final Four.