The start of the 2013-2014 season represents the dawn of a new era for Ohio State women’s basketball as Kevin McGuff begins his tenure as the head coach of the Buckeyes. After returning OSU to their proper place at the top of the Big Ten, Jim Foster was let go at the end of last season after three years of slipping performance. After two seasons as the head coach of Washington, McGuff returns to Ohio, he had been the head coach at Xavier for six years before taking the job with the Huskies, with the charge to get OSU to take the next step and compete for National Championships.
McGuff has promised an up-tempo, exciting style of play and his first couple months on the job have certainly shown that he understands up-tempo and exciting. He quickly assembled a coaching staff with a diverse variety of backgrounds: Joy Cheek (previously assistant coach at national power Duke), Patrick Klein (assistant coach at OSU under Foster), and Mark Mitchell (a state championship winning high school boys coach from Taft High School in Cincinnati). With no incoming class signed by Foster, McGuff knew that he had to hit the recruiting trail hard and he quickly made a splash, signing five high profile players (Kelsey Mitchell, Chelsea Mitchell, Alexa Hart, Makayla Waterman, and Asia Doss) who will don the scarlet and gray next season as part of perhaps the best recruiting class ever at OSU.
Adjusting to a new coach is always tough and this season the Buckeyes face the additional challenge of having to replace two of their top players and team leaders from last season as Tayler Hill and Amber Stokes graduated. Hill led the team in scoring (representing almost one third of OSU’s points), assists, and steals while Stokes was second on the team in steals and was third in points. Replacing both Hill and Stokes will be a tall task but OSU returns a lot of talent who have all played together before and who should now be much more comfortable with each other’s styles.
As I have previously said, new Ohio State women’s basketball coach Kevin McGuff faces a number of challenges this season. In addition to the standard challenges a new coach faces in having to get to know his new team and build a staff, McGuff has to deal with having a roster that is depleted number wise. Stars Tayler Hill and Amber Stokes graduated along with fellow seniors Emilee Harmon and Brianna Sanders. After missing last season with an injured ACL, talented forward Kalpana Beach reinjured her surgically repaired knee and will miss at least a major portion of this season. These departures and injury, combined with the Buckeyes not signing any recruits for this season, means that OSU only have 11 healthy players on the roster, as opposed to the normal 16. Another challenge became apparent this week when OSU announced one of the toughest non-conference schedules that the program has ever had.
One of the explanations for Ohio State’s struggles in the postseason under Jim Foster was that the Buckeyes took on mostly cupcakes in their non-conference schedule and then beat up on a relatively weak Big Ten, leaving them unprepared for the higher level of opponents that they would run into in the NCAA tournament. This year’s non-conference schedule cannot be subjected to that criticism as the Buckeyes face 7 teams who made the NCAA tournament last year (4 of those in games that will be played outside of Columbus) and 3 more who made the WNIT.
This is part two in my series on Ohio State Women’s basketball. Originally had intended to do these in back to back weeks, but it became apparent early on that Coach Foster may have been coaching his last season, and that became true. So with the help from Charles, this is the finishing product on the women’s dominance of the B1G. Check out my previous article here.
After the firing of Nancy Darsch following the 1997 season, the Buckeye brass wasted little time stealing Beth Burns away from San Diego State. Coach Burns returned to SDSU after her brief stint with the Buckeyes form 1997 to 2002 at which point she was replaced by Jim Foster. After a combined 16 seasons at SDSU before and after OSU she resigned unexpectedly recently. Let’s take a good look at her term with Ohio State.
She finished her stint 81-65 overall and never really hit her stride while in Columbus. A tenacious and aggressive style of coaching along with a great knowledge of the game never really paid off with players that were left from the Darsch era and the players that she brought in ended up not fitting in either. The stigma of three 8th place finishes, one 4th and a 5th in the B1G even took Foster a couple years to get things rolling.
As Ken reported on Tuesday, after four weeks of searching, Ohio State announced the hiring of Kevin McGuff as the new women’s basketball head coach. While McGuff doesn’t have the level of name recognition as some of the other candidates for the job, he is a far better hire than many people realize and is the type of coach that I wanted when the job search began. McGuff is a relatively young be coaching standards, he is 43, and is an up-and-comer who has a very solid resume that has shown that he can build programs.
Like many of Ohio State’s recent high profile head coaches, Kevin McGuff has ties back to the Buckeye state. McGuff was born in Hamilton, Ohio and after leaving the state to attend Saint Joseph’s College in Indiana, returned to begin his coaching career as an assistant coach at Miami of Ohio. The next step in McGuff’s coaching career saw him travel back to the state of Indiana where he served as an assistant coach at Notre Dame under Muffet McGraw where he was part of the program that won the 2001 national title. Unable to stay away from the state of Ohio, McGuff got his first head coaching gig at Xavier in 2002.
At Xavier, McGuff compiled a 213-73 and led the Musketeers to 4 Atlantic Ten tournament Championships, 3 WNIT appearances, and 6 NCAA tournament appearances. While McGuff’s Xavier teams didn’t have great success in the postseason, they did make the Elite Eight in the 2009-2010 season and came within a minute of upsetting Stanford to make the Final Four. A big part of McGuff’s success was his recruiting and despite the small profile of Xavier in women’s basketball, McGuff had good success on the recruiting trail, signing several players who could have easily played at major conference schools, most notably Ta’Shia Phillips and Amber Harris who were the only two players from non-BCS schools invited to attend the 2011 WNBA draft in person.
Ohio State announced the hiring of Kevin McGuff as the new Ohio State University Women’s basketball coach. Coach Jim Foster retired this year after 11 seasons at Ohio State, where his teams were 279-82 (.772), having accomplished the most wins and highest winning percentage in school history.
Coach McGuff has 11 seasons as head coach; two years most recently at University of Washington preceded by nine years at Xavier (sound familiar?). In those 11 years, McGuff’s team achieved a record of 255-99 (.720), so he brings an impressive record of accomplishment with him to Columbus. In a sense, Kevin and his family are returning home; he is a native of Hamilton, OH.
Below are excerpts from Gene Smith’s announcement, as well as a link to the full announcement.
April 16, 2013
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Gene Smith, Ohio State associate vice president and director of athletics, announced today Kevin McGuff has been named head women’s basketball coach at The Ohio State University. Read More
It has been a month since Ohio State announced that Jim Foster would not be returning as coach of the women’s basketball team and the OSU athletic department has been busy searching for a new coach.
When the announcement of Foster’s firing was made, OSU said that they expected to be in the Final Four every few years, clearly setting a high bar for the program in the upcoming seasons. Considering the fact that Ohio State has only ever made one Final Four, this would seem a bit unrealistic but with the resources of OSU and the talent produced in Ohio and elsewhere in the Midwest, it is a very achievable goal.
However, to meet this goal OSU will need to find a coach that can properly take advantage of these resources and lead the program to the next level.
While women’s basketball coaching searches aren’t followed as closely as those for football and men’s basketball, some bits of information has slipped out over recent weeks. The first bit of news was that current South Carolina coach Dawn Staley had withdrawn her name from consideration for the OSU job. Staley has South Carolina on the rise and over her tenure the Gamecocks have gone from being a non-factor in the SEC to finishing ranked in the top 20 this season. Despite this improvement, South Carolina hasn’t had success in the NCAA tournament and that is obviously an important criterion for Ohio State. The most upsetting part of Staley’s announcement is the potential implication that OSU isn’t being perceived as the top tier job that it should be.
OSU Wexner Medical Center
“Deep brain stimulation” may sound like science fiction–but at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center, it’s changing patients’ lives. Led by Dr. Ali Rezai, the neuromodulation team places a small implant in the brain that regulates electrical signals with tiny electrodes.
Learn how this cutting-edge technology is eliminating tremors and could treat Alzheimer’s, autism, seizures, migraines, addiction, and more.
The firing of coaches is met with a wide range of emotions by fans, with some firings eliciting happiness and shouts of “good riddance” from the fans while others spark anger in the fans for the loss of a beloved coach. The announcement that Jim Foster would not be returning as the head coach of the Ohio State women’s basketball team was met with a more complex set of emotions by many, including myself. My feelings regarding Foster’s firing would best be described as bittersweet. Foster was a great coach, and even better person, who markedly improved the women’s basketball program. At the same time, despite Foster’s dominance in the Big Ten he was never able to get the team to take the next step and the past three seasons had seen a decline even in the performance in conference.
As WVaBuckeye pointed out in the excellent first part of his series on Ohio State women’s basketball’s history of success, the Buckeyes dominated the Big Ten in the early days of the conference sponsoring the sport in the 1980s, also enjoying a run of NCAA tournament success during those years. By the late 1990s that dominance in the conference had evaporated, along with pretty much all of the postseason success. In the five years before Foster arrived, OSU had an overall record of 81-65 but went 35-45 in the Big Ten and never finished higher than a tie for fourth place in the conference. The Buckeyes did win the WNIT in 2001 but a sub-.500 record the following year led to the firing of Beth Burns as head coach and the hiring of Jim Foster.