Lotta stuff rattling around the ol’ brainpan the last couple of days… sometimes it’s good to have a bit of distraction from the harshness of our realities. Here’s the song that’s been stuck in my subconscious…
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
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.
Yesterday’s win over Minnesota in the first round of the Big Ten tournament was huge for the Ohio State women’s basketball team’s hopes of making the NCAA tournament. Today’s matchup with top seeded and 7th ranked Penn State was an opportunity for the Buckeyes to improve their NCAA resume and virtually assure themselves a spot in the Big Dance. This was also a chance for OSU to get some revenge after Penn State overcame a halftime deficit to beat the Buckeyes in their only regular season meeting.
The game started out as a tight, back-and-forth defensive battle with both teams having to work hard to get an open look. The opening five minutes saw both team trading baskets with neither able to open up more than a three point lead. Ohio State led 14-13 at the fourteen minute mark but then Penn State scored six straight points to take a 19-14 lead just a minute and a half later and it seemed like the Nittany Lions were poised to take control of the game. The Buckeyes responded though, getting some defensive stops which led to some nice layups as OSU scored 8 straight to take the lead, 22-19, with eight minutes remaining in the half. The teams would go back to trading baskets for the next few minutes and OSU managed to extend its lead to 29-24 with just under five minutes left in the half. The Nittany Lions closed out the half strong though, going on a 9 to 2 run to close the half and to take a 33-31 lead into halftime.
The Ohio State women’s basketball team ended the regular season by winning three straight and six of their last eight to move them back onto the bubble for the NCAA tournament. Despite the strong finish to the regular season, the Buckeyes came into the Big Ten tournament looking for a few more wins to improve their tournament resume. Ohio State was the ninth seed in the tournament and opened play against the eight seed Minnesota. The Golden Gophers swept the Buckeyes during the regular season; those wins included a heart breaker in Columbus two weeks ago.
Minnesota got out to an early 10-4 lead in the opening five minutes but Ohio State came back with a 9 to 2 run to take a 13-12 lead with eight and a half minutes remaining in the half. The Golden Gophers responded though as Big Ten scoring leader Rachel Banham hit a pair of three pointers to spark a 13 to 3 run that gave Minnesota a 25-16 lead with four minutes on the clock. Just as it seemed that the Gophers had all the momentum, the OSU defense stepped up and the Buckeyes closed the half with 8 unanswered points to cut the Minnesota lead to 25-24 as both teams headed into the break.
On Sunday the Ohio State women’s basketball team wrapped up the Big Ten season with a win over rival Michigan and now the Buckeyes turn their sights to the Big Ten women’s basketball tournament. After years of taking place in Indianapolis, this year the tournament moves to the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. This is only the second time the tournament has been played outside of Indianapolis, the first ever women’s basketball tournament took place in Grand Rapids, Michigan. As part of a new deal signed by the Big Ten last year, the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will alternate between Chicago and Indy, the men’s tournament will be played at the United Center when the tournaments are in Chicago.
Personally I am not a fan of this plan as I felt that Indy was the perfect city for the basketball tournaments; the arena was nice and it was in easy walking distance of numerous bars and hotels which kept all the fans of various teams in a small area, improving the atmosphere. The men’s tournament has been in Chicago before and while there is nothing wrong with the United Center, it is far from the main part of the city and there isn’t much around it; this means that fans and teams are more spread out and you don’t get the fun atmosphere that Indy has. Having the women’s tournament in a suburb of Chicago will have many of the same issues as people will have to drive to hotels and most bars and restaurants, spreading out the fans and hurting the atmosphere of the weekend. I will give the event organizers this year some credit as they do seem to be trying to schedule more side events in order to improve the atmosphere, I guess we’ll have to wait and see how it goes.
When it comes to Ohio State sports, it is only appropriate that the regular season should end with a game against Michigan; unfortunately this rarely happens for most sports that aren’t football. This year the Big Ten scheduling computers got things right for the women’s basketball team who closed the regular season today by hosting Michigan, their only game against the Wolverines this season. The Buckeyes came into this game on a two game winning streak that had seen them play some of their best basketball of the season and they looked to keep that momentum going heading into this week’s Big Ten tournament.
After Michigan scored on the game’s first possession, the two teams traded baskets until Ohio State scored six straight to take an 11-6 lead just over six minutes into the game. The Wolverines responded with a pair of three points sandwiched around an Ameryst Alston basket to make it a one point game and then tied it at 16 a few minutes later. The Buckeyes roared back with a 10 to 2 run to take a 26-18 lead with just under six minutes remaining in the half. The teams would trade baskets for the rest of the half and Ohio State went into halftime lead 30-25.
Coming off one of their best team games of the year in Monday’s win over Michigan State, the Ohio State women’s basketball team looked to build some momentum with tonight’s game at Illinois. This was the last road game of the year for the Buckeyes, which must come as a relief to a team that has really struggled on the road over the past two seasons. Those road struggles also meant that this game was really important for OSU, not only as it would tell us if the good performance against Sparty was indicative of things to come or was just a mere blip but also because a road win would greatly help the Buckeyes’ case to sneak into the NCAA tournament.
The game started out as a back and forth affair which resulted in the game being tied at 9 seven minutes into the game. The importance of this game for the postseason hopes of both teams was apparently early as both teams played energetic defense but also had moments of sloppy play on offense which led to turnovers. After a good shooting start by Ohio State, their shooting went cold and Illinois took advantage to go on a 7 to 2 run to take a 16-11 lead with eight minutes remaining in the half. The Buckeyes responded though, scoring six straight to take a 17-16 lead just over six minutes on the clock. The lead bounced back and forth for a couple minutes before OSU went on an 8 to 2 run to take a 27-22 lead with two and a half minutes remaining. The two teams would trade baskets the rest of the way and when the buzzer sounded for halftime Ohio State had a 31-26 lead.