The Ohio State women’s basketball team entered day three of the Hall of Fame Challenge as the only undefeated team in the Columbus site after having beaten Old Dominion on Friday and then rallied to beat Marist on Saturday. Less than 24 hours after that thrilling comeback against the Red Foxes, the Buckeyes were back on the court to take on in-state foe Bowling Green.
A Darryce Moore layup opened the scoring but OSU’s lead was short lived as Bowling Green used a pair of three pointers to take an early 8-2 lead. It quickly became apparent that the Falcons were going to use a similar strategy as Marist did and attack the Buckeyes from beyond-the-arc. Unfortunately OSU still struggled to close out on the three point shooters and Bowling Green took advantage of those open looks. To compound problems for Ohio State, the Buckeyes struggled with their own shooting and as a result found themselves down 5 to 7 points for most of the first half before they managed to trim their deficit to 25-21 heading into the locker room. Considering the fact that OSU made only 4 first half field goals on 22 attempts, being down only 4 to a Bowling Green team that was 6 of 12 from beyond the three point line wasn’t too bad.
After Bowling Green stretched their lead to 37-28 just four minutes into the second half, Ohio State responded with seven straight points, bookended by layups by Moore, to pull within two points with fourteen and a half to go. The Falcons responded though with a 12to 0 run of their own to stretch their lead to 49-35 just past the midpoint of the half. The run proved to be a killer and the Buckeyes wouldn’t manage to get close than 8 the rest of the way as Bowling Green coasted to a 64-52 win.
After getting off to a 3-0 start, the Ohio State women’s basketball team faced its toughest test on the season with a trip to #22 Georgia. The Bulldogs made the Elite Eight last season and are replacing several starters but still are a tough team that has become NCAA tournament regulars. Injuries, suspensions, graduations, and a decision to transfer had left Ohio State short handed this season; the Buckeyes haven’t had more than 8 healthy players for any of their games so far. Fortunately things were a bit better today as guard Raven Ferguson returned to the team after serving a three game suspension for violating team rules.
Ohio State got things started the right way, scoring the first seven points in the game and limiting Georgia to only three shot attempts, all misses, in the opening three minutes. The Bulldogs finally got on the board thanks to a free throw that then sparked a 12 to 2 run to give Georgia a 12-9 lead eight minutes into the opening half. The Buckeyes answered right back with back-to-back three pointers from Ameryst Alston followed by a three pointer by Amy Scullion which put OSU back on top 18-12 at the midpoint of the half. The rest of the half would be a tight, back and forth affair with Georgia repeatedly cutting the OSU lead to 1 point. Fortunately the Buckeyes responded each time and went into halftime with a 33-29 lead.
Georgia came out strong to start the second half while the Buckeyes looked flat; OSU failed to score for the first six and a half minutes of the second period while the Bulldogs scored 11 unanswered to take a 40-33 lead. When OSU finally got on the board thanks to a pair of free throws, they then followed those with three pointers by Maleeka Kynard and Scullion as part of an 8 to 3 run that cut the Bulldog lead to 43-41 at the midpoint of the half. Neither team was able to have much luck scoring from that point and with just under a minute and a half remaining in the game, Ohio State found themselves down 53-47. A pair of Ameryst Alston free throws followed by a steal by Kynard seemed to give the Buckeyes a chance but OSU promptly turned the ball over and were forced to foul. The Bulldogs missed the front end of the one-and-one and the Buckeyes grabbed the rebound but were unable to score as Georgia hung on for the 53-49 win.
After an impressive win at West Virginia in their opener and a narrow win at home against Florida Atlantic, the Ohio State women’s basketball team looked to continue their undefeated start to the season today as they hosted Virginia Commonwealth University Thursday night. The already shorthanded Ohio State roster suffered another blow earlier this week as junior guard Shelbi Honeycutt announced her decision to transfer from OSU in order to be closer to home and to get more playing time. Honeycutt is from Siloam Springs, Arkansas so her decision certainly makes sense and we wish her all the best. Honeycutt’s decision left the Buckeyes with nine available players for Thursday night’s game as Raven Ferguson is serving the last game of her three game suspension for violating team rules and Kalpana Beach is out with an ACL injury. While the current roster is small, good news awaits on the horizon as earlier in the day Kevin McGuff and the Buckeyes officially signed five new players (Asia Doss, Alexa Hart, Chelsea Mitchell, Kelsey Mitchell, and Makayla Waterman), four of who are ranked in the top 100 in the country, to a recruiting class that is ranked as high as #2 in the nation. While this new recruiting class promised great things for the future, the Buckeyes still had more pressing business to attend to in the form of the VCU Rams.
The game started out a little sloppy for Ohio State as they missed a few shots and had a pair of turnovers in the first two and half minutes which raised some concerns that the turnover issues that plagued the Buckeyes in the closing minutes against FAU would once again be a problem against a similar, fast paced, guard-heavy VCU team. OSU led 4-2 just over two and half minutes into the game but then things settled down, the Buckeyes started to take better care of the ball and hit their shots to take a 13-4 lead at the first media timeout while hitting 6 of 8 from the field. The Buckeyes extended that lead to 19-6 with eleven and half minutes remaining in the half when they hit what could have been a hiccup as Ameryst Alston picked up her second foul however guard Amy Scullion quickly scored five points to take care of any lost offensive production. After extending their lead to 26-11 with eight minutes remaining in the half, the Buckeyes started having turnover issues which fueled a 7-0 run by VCU. Ohio State recovered though and put together a 14 to 5 run to push the lead to 17 before a Rams’ three-pointer at the buzzer made it 40-26 Buckeyes at the break.
The Ohio State women’s basketball team officially opened the Kevin McGuff era on Friday with a trip to West Virginia. While most teams from major conferences tend to open the season at home against patsies, the Buckeyes opened their season with a challenging trip to face a team that made the NCAA tournament last season. As if having to replace their top two players from last season didn’t add enough extra challenge to the trip, OSU was without the services of a trio of junior guards: Raven Ferguson who is serving a three game suspension for violating team rules, Maleeka Kynard who has an injured left ankle, and Shelbi Honeycutt who was ill. This required the shuffling of the starting lineup from the exhibition game and the Buckeyes started guards Ameryst Alston, Cait Craft, and Amy Scullion and centers Ashley Adams and Darryce Moore.
Ohio State drew first blood with an Ameryst Alston jumper thirteen seconds into a first half that proved to a tight battle where neither team managed to lead by more than 5 points. The Buckeyes faced their biggest deficit of the half, down 20-23 just past the midpoint of the half but a three-pointer by Martina Ellerbe quickly knotted things back up. The Mountaineers pulled back ahead 27-28 with six minutes left in the half but Alston and Ellerbe each hit a pair of free throws and a three pointer to key a 10 to 4 run that gave OSU a 37-32 lead in the biggest score difference of the half. West Virginia came back and cut the Buckeye lead to one and the teams went into the locker room with Ohio State up 41-40.
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.
Anytime a new coach is hired a lot of importance is placed on their first recruiting class as it really sets the tone for their tenure. A good first recruiting class excites fans about the future of the program and catches the attention of future recruits as they see a coach building something that they want to be a part of. In the case of new Ohio State women’s basketball Coach Kevin McGuff, his first recruiting class was even more important as former Coach Jim Foster had failed to sign any recruits for the upcoming 2013-2014 season to replace the four seniors who graduated at the end of last season. Upon getting hired in April, McGuff immediately made the tough decision to not try to grab any last second recruits for the upcoming season and instead stick with the current team even though this would mean that the squad would only have 12 players instead of the normal 16; this dropped to 11 players when forward Kalpana Beach injured her ACL which will keep her out for at least the first couple months of the season. The benefits of this decision was that it acted as a vote of confidence to the current team, meant that McGuff could spend the time to make sure to get the players that he needs at OSU, and that it gave him 7 scholarships available for the 2014 class which featured a bevy of talent in the state of Ohio. It didn’t take long for McGuff to make a major splash in recruiting as it was announced on Tuesday that OSU had received verbal commitments from three players, including two ranked among the top 15 recruits in the country: Kelsey Mitchell, Cheslea Mitchell, and Alexa Hart.
Kelsey Mitchell is a 5’9” point guard from Princeton High School in Cincinnati who is ranked either 1st or 4th overall and 1st or 2nd among point guards in the 2014 class, depending on which recruiting service you want to believe. Kelsey is a star offensive player and is a threat to score from anywhere on the court as she possesses a nice three point shot and can attack the basket. Kelsey also takes advantage of the attention her star power draws to get teammates involved, showing solid passing ability especially off of the drive. On the other end of the court, Kelsey is a solid defender who has good instincts when it comes to jumping passing lanes and solid boxing out skills even against taller opponents. Last week Kelsey helped lead her AAU team, All Ohio Black, to a victory in the Summer Invitational, a feat that required overcoming a double digit deficit in the title game (http://prospectsnation.com/story/all-ohio-completes-comeback). Kelsey struggled with her shot early but compensated by getting the ball to teammates in good scoring position and in the end, she hit the game winning three-pointer. To get an idea of how Kelsey looks in action, check out this highlight video.
Today was a huge day in Ohio State Women’s Basketball. After months of quietly building his staff and putting his program together, Kevin McGuff picked up three big recruits for his class.Marcus Hartman of Buckeye Sports Bulletin had the news:
Big day for Ohio State women’s basketball as Kelsey and Chelsea Mitchell along with Alexa Hart have verbally committed
— Marcus Hartman (@marcushartman) July 30, 2013
Kelsey Mitchell is rated between the #1 and #4 overall player in the 2014 class, and the #1 or #2 PG, depending on your recruiting service of choice. She’s a scoring PG that can put the ball in the hoop from any range. She is also a dynamic passer and will add serious dimensions to the OSU offense.
The Buckeyes also picked up a commitment from Chelsea Mitchell, a forward, who seems to play with a “do it all” mentality. While she is not a spectacular shooter, she can hit consistently from long range (roughly 25% shooting). She adds to that a solid rebounding and assist game which should give her something to build on.
This is a huge start for McGuff, and should serve as a warning that he’s come to Ohio State to make things happen in for the Women’s team.
Welcome to the Buckeye Family!
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.