After losing to the UConn Huskies on Sunday, things don’t get much easier for McGuff’s team since they travel to College Park, MD to play the University of Maryland Terrapins as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Terrapins are 7-1, their only loss coming to UConn.
Here’s a profile on the University of Maryland
School: University of Maryland
Location: College Park, MD
Student Population: 26,487
School Type: Public, coed
Conference: ACC (for now)
Arena: Comcast Center
Head Coach: Brenda Frese
The Buckeyes have an “interim” game in the Hall of Fame Challenge on Wednesday by hosting the Lehigh University Mountain Hawks. After Sunday’s game against Bowling Green, OSU goes to Springfield, MA to play UConn. In the meantime however, McGuff’s team has to deal with Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks enter this contest on a 3-game winning streak and are at 5-1.
Here’s a profile on Lehigh University
School: Lehigh University
Location: Bethlehem, PA
Student Population: 4,883
School Type: Private
Conference: Patriot League
Arena: Stabler Arena
Head Coach: Sue Troyan
The Buckeyes hosted the Old Dominion Lady Monarchs in the 1st round of the Hall of Fame Challenge. This is the first of three consecutive games for these teams, so this Challenge will prove a good mental and physical test.
Battling early game turnovers, Ohio State got off to a bit of a slow start with 3 early giveaways. The Buckeyes did a good job of beating the OD press, but had trouble with the entry passes to the post. OSU improved their status at the under-12 timeout by pulling ahead 13-12, highlighted by a 3-pointer by Maleeka Kynard. OSU had been working on using their superior height by running a double high post involving Ashley Adams and Martina Ellerbe. At the 8:14 mark, a trey by Ameryst Alston push the score to 22-14. McGuff has a well conceived game plan with the double-high. When the feed pass when into one post player, the other broke to the basket for a pass. Nicely planned.
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.