Courtside with Marty Bannister
Back by popular demand! Marty Bannister, the play-by-play voice of the Ohio State women's basketball team for the past nine years, will be keeping a blog once again throughout the season to provide fans with insight on the team and give his take on the Buckeyes, the Big Ten and the rest of the college basketball landscape. In addition to his duties with the women's cagers, Marty also has served as the football sideline reporter for The Ohio State Buckeyes Radio Network since 2006 and shares play-by-play duties with the baseball team in the spring.
March 13, 2012
I always like watching the reaction of Ohio State's players and coaches on selection night when the Buckeyes' name and seeding pops up on the screen. It was really interesting Monday evening when the Buckeyes found out their destination. I would say a mix of shock, disappointment, amazement and some anger would be the best way to describe what I saw that night. Ohio State was given an #8 seed and will play the #9 seed Florida in Bowling Green Sunday around 12:15 p.m. Coach Jim Foster said he was as disappointed in Monday's seeding for one of his teams as he has been in 26 years of tournament appearances.
So, to break it down: winning 25 games, finishing second in one of the top-rated power leagues, beating nine NCAA tournament-bound teams (three of them on THEIR home courts), being one of a handful of schools to not lose a non-conference game and having the Big Ten player of the year, is the equivalent of a 8 seed by the selection committee.
It appears to me the committee simply based Ohio State's seeding on how the team played in its last 10 games, which is completely unfair. Yes, the Buckeyes were not very good down the stretch, but does that wipe out what happened in the previous 21 games? Does the entire body of work in a season count for anything? If that's the case, then simply scheduling 11 to 13 wins non-conference wise appears to be the way to go. That hurts the overall development of the women's game and in the end, isn't that what all this is about? Making the game one the fans want to watch and be a part of. It does the women's game no good to have same four schools play for the title every year. I agree with Jim Foster as well on this point: a Big Ten voice needs to be a part of the selection committee and OSU AD Gene Smith would be the perfect choice. Having already served on the men's selection committee, he fully understands criteria and how it should be used, which judging from what happened Monday night, the current committee has lost sight of.
So after all that, it now boils down to getting the job done on the floor. The matchup with Florida falls into the category of a typical 8 vs. 9 seed game (although these teams may be better suited for a 4 vs. 5 game). The Gators played a handful of close games, most of those in the treacherous Southeastern Conference. They, like Ohio State, are not afraid to push the ball and spread the floor. Should be a good one. Overall top-seed Baylor plays the 16-seed UCSB in Sunday's second game. I would image the Lady Bears are a little miffed as well, not about seeding, but why they are playing in Ohio. It seemed logical for the top-seed to be put as close to home as possible.
A plus in all this is Ohio State gets the chance to play before what will hopefully be a partisan crowd at the Stroh Center in Bowling Green. I have heard nothing but good things about the Falcons new home, and am looking forward to seeing the arena in person.
We will be on the air from Bowling Green Sunday at noon, with the tip at 12:15. The game, as always, on AM 1460 ESPN and available free worldwide at OhioStateBuckeyes.com.
March 7, 2012
Well, you can't win it every year I guess. It's funny, but after watching Ohio State reach the Big Ten tournament final in four of the last six seasons, sitting at home on Sunday while Purdue beat Nebraska in this year's final seemed very odd. That being said, going into this season I would imagine not many gave the Buckeyes a shot at winning an unprecedented fourth straight tournament crown anyway. Still, a Sunday spent watching felt different, and that tells you how dominant the Buckeyes have been in this event.
Ohio State's two games in Indianapolis against Michigan and Nebraska were two very different affairs. Jim Foster calls tournament games "grind it out" type meetings and the 57-48 win over the Maize and Blue in the quarterfinals fit that bill. The Buckeyes defense came up huge in the second half, key plays by Amber Stokes and Tayler Hill were big in the win. Kalpana Beach, Darryce Moore and Raven Ferguson all had big games and the Buckeyes withstood a Michigan push from down 16 to win and move to the semis. I will admit, and I said this on the air Saturday, that I have never seen a game in my 30 years of broadcasting change as quickly as the Buckeyes game with Nebraska did. The Cornhuskers looked every bit a team playing its third game in three days for the game's first 13-plus minutes, as they trailed Ohio State 24-11. Then a Brandi Jeffery three (the Huskers first after going 0-for-9) followed up by consecutive baskets by Kaitlyn Burke and almost as fast as you could say "welcome to the Big Ten", the Cornhuskers were within six and had all the momentum. I usually do not listen back to our broadcasts, but Monday I took some time to do so with this game. My thoughts were confirmed after listening back. Ohio State, even though ahead, was doing some of things they had done while struggling down the stretch. Quick shots, no ball reversal, and not closing out on defense. So while the Buckeyes had the lead, they were not doing the things they do best. Credit Nebraska, they scored 11 points in the first 13 minutes, then outscored Ohio State 25-6 to end the half. When they started raining threes, it was an onslaught the Buckeyes never recovered from.
So now it's on to the NCAA's. The big question surrounds what seed the Buckeyes will get and where they will play. I have been asked a lot what I think the number seed that awaits the Buckeyes. You factor everything in, strength of schedule, record vs. Top 25 teams, conference RPI and how the team finished down the stretch and I feel Ohio State is a solid No. 5 seed. Lost in the rough finish is the fact this team owns wins over Temple, LSU, at Oklahoma, at California, at Michigan State over Nebraska and over Purdue. All the aforementioned teams are NCAA tournament bound. It also seems to me that the first and second rounds hosted by Bowling Green would be the logical destination for Ohio State. The NCAA loves to see arenas full at women's tournament games, so can you imagine what the Stroh Center at BG would be like if Ohio State, Dayton and Bowling Green would comprise three of the four teams at that site?
I also think six teams will make the tournament from the Big Ten. Michigan will have the toughest wait for this Monday's announcement show on ESPN than anyone. As much fun as it is to revel in anything that makes the Wolverines suffer, you have to throw that out at this time of the year and root for the conference as a whole. Michigan did finish with 20 wins, but also placed seventh in the league standings. Kevin Borseth's team needs favorites to win conference tournament titles to keep them on the bubble.
Again, the field of 64 will be announced this Monday evening at 7 on ESPN. Go Bucks, and we will talk soon!
Feb. 29, 2012
Well, more about the "good", than the "bad" from the last two games of the regular season for Ohio State. The "good", of course, being what happened Thursday on senior night. Jim Foster summed the night up best, calling the night the perfect "Hollywood script". Samantha Prahalis eclipsing Katie Smith's school single-game scoring mark of 40 by scoring 42 in the 81-56 win over Minnesota, in Prahalis' last game in front of the home fans. Special it was, no question. Even her heart felt remarks after the game fit the evening perfectly. She addressed the crowd with genuine emotion and appreciation looking back at her 4 years in Columbus. It was fun and an honor to have been a part of the night, and to have the chance to describe her games over the last four years.
The opposite end of the spectrum came Sunday in Lincoln, when Nebraska put the Buckeyes away 71-57. For whatever the reason, Ohio State has become a different team away (5-5 this season) from Columbus (19-0 this year). All the things the Buckeyes do so well at home -- ball reversal, space the floor, turn up the screws defensively, balance on offense -- all have left the team when playing away. Why? I wish I could tell you. Remember, this is a team that in December won at Oklahoma and California. Both of those teams are likely NCAA-bound. The Buckeyes confidence seems to have disappeared away from home. Here's hoping the move to Indianapolis and the neutral site for the Big Ten tournament will be a cure for whatever has caused the Buckeyes to lose their road "mojo".
Speaking of the tournament, the four days coming up in Indianapolis should feature some great basketball. Ohio State plays as the #2 seed, opening up on Friday against the winner of the Thursday game between seventh-seeded Michigan and the 10th seed Illinois. Both of those teams have defeated the Buckeyes, and gave Ohio State some serious match-up issues. The Wolverines, in fact, have won the last three times they have faced the Buckeyes. Ohio State does not need to win the tourney in order to get the NCAA tournament. Michigan, though, in all likelihood, would increase its chances by at least getting to the semi-finals. Perhaps the most dangerous team arriving in Indianapolis is Iowa. The Hawkeyes have not lost since losing guard Jaime Printy eight games ago to a knee injury, and Lisa Bluder's team sure looks like a confident bunch. The other team that could be a factor is Michigan State. Sparty was in serious trouble, I think, entering February, but they closed with a rush and have won their last four games entering the tournament.
The conference also handed out post-season honors this week, and to no one's surprise, Samantha Prahalis was named as the league's Player of the Year. What was a bit surprising, to me anyway, was Jim Foster NOT being named coach of the year. That honor went to Coquese Washington of Penn State. Now, understand, Coach Foster cares not one bit about such things, but he guided a team that lost the four-time player of the year, as well as two other starters, to a second place league finish and 24 wins. That after Ohio State was picked to finish outside the top three in the league by the same group (media and coaches) that did not vote him Coach of the Year. Coach Washington did a good job, but her team was picked to finish first, (it did) and returned 3 starters and the leagues freshman of the year. He got my vote, and I think those that did not vote for him miss the definition of what Coach of the Year should be.
We join you Friday from Indianapolis at 11:15 in the morning, with the tip at 11:30, on 1460 ESPN, and free everywhere at OhioStateBuckeyes.com.
Go Bucks, we will talk soon!
Feb. 22, 2012
Well, fun the visit to "Happy Valley" was not, so no sense in trying to sugarcoat what went on Monday night. Penn State soundly beat an Ohio State team that had not been treated like that by an opponent since the Connecticut loss last season in Madison Square Garden. Even the Sweet 16 loss to Tennessee was a game Ohio State was in, but Monday night was very tough to watch and to describe. Sixty Penn State rebounds, 29 offensive, and a 29-0 edge in second chance points pretty much sums up what happened. It was surprising to see Ohio State not put up more of a fight than what they did, in so much as this team has been such a confident bunch all season long. You look at the three prior losses, and a basket here, a defensive stop there, and each of those games could have been different. Monday, though, wow. Take nothing away from Penn State, they played very well and are a team that in winning at least a share of the conference crown is going to be a tough out in Indianapolis at the Big Ten tournament.
Feb. 14, 2012
A split last week of games with Illinois and Purdue gears Ohio State up for a fun stretch run towards another Big Ten regular season title. Lets look back for a moment and take each game one at a time.
Feb. 2, 2012
Despite the split this past Thursday and Sunday, Ohio State still remains in control of it's destiny in regards to winning the Big Ten regular season title. Now, that does not ease the sting of losing at Minnesota, or not playing well and winning at Indiana, but a positive is a positive no matter how you look at it.
Jan. 25, 2012
Two exciting games last week -- against teams at the top and bottom of theconference standings -- for Ohio State. The wins followed the same successful script that has worked throughout the season: defense creating offense, key contributions from the bench, and the continued outstanding play of guards Samantha Prahalis and Tayler Hill. The ability to move the ball (ball reversal) on offense, makes Ohio State very dangerous on that side of the court as well. Jim Foster has mentioned that aspect of the Buckeyes game numerous times. While stats can sometimes be misleading, the Buckeyes offensive output (they lead the conference in shooting percentage) and points per game (also #1 in the Big Ten) readily back up what Coach Foster talks about.
So after the impressive win over then #20 Nebraska (82-68), and the up-tempo, exciting win over Illinois (96-84), the Buckeyes are now 19-1 on the season heading towards road games with Indiana and Minnesota this week. Although lots of basketball remains, the question is being continually put to me: "Just how good is this team?"
This Ohio State team has pleasantly surprised me, and I say that as not a knock on what it has accomplished, but as a compliment to what it has done. Honestly, no one, from myself to my broadcast partners Kristin Watt and Toni Roesch, would have put this team at this point with 19 wins in 20 games. Only the players would be the ones to see this kind of run. Not many teams lose 3 starters from a Sweet 16 team and throw this kind of season on the board the following year. Roles have been assumed and accepted, along with a new style, and it has all meshed nicely. This is a team I think with it's style and ability, when doing what it is capable of, can be a handful for alot of teams. Does that answer the question? Not really, because I think right now no one can pinpoint just how good any one team is in January. It's been a fun ride so far, so lets enjoy it and see if we can come up with a better answer in March.
The stretch that started with Illinois finds Ohio State playing teams that currently own a combined 5-23 mark in league play. While that sounds like an easy stretch, remember it includes games at Indiana and Minnesota. Both of those games are in arenas where Ohio State has not played it's best basketball in the recent past. The games are played in remarkedly different atmospheres. In Bloomington, the 17,000 seat Assembly Hall is normally populated by as many Ohio State fans as IU supporters. The Buckeye fans in attendance usually increase the crowd total to over 1,000 or so. In a state that is basketball crazed, IU women's hoops has yet to gain any sort of a foothold in Bloomington. The Hoosiers, large crowd or not, play the Buckeyes tough there. In Minneapolis, the loud, ancient, Williams Arena, jumps when the Gophers are playing well. Most say the raised floor is a homecourt "edge" for the Minnesota, but most Buckeyes players I have talked with like playing there. For whatever reason though, games there are usually a dogfight.
We are on the air Thursday at 7:45 p.m. ET from Bloomington, and then Sunday at 12:45 p.m. ET from the Twin Cities, on 1460 ESPN, and free anywhere right here at OhioStateBuckeyes.com.
Go Bucks, and we will talk soon!
Jan. 17, 2012
A nice bounce back week for Jim Foster's team, as Ohio State won tough match-ups with Northwestern on Thursday, then at Michigan State on Sunday. I think a lot of us who cover this team (well, mostly Jim Massie of the Dispatch and myself) were very interested to see how the Buckeyes would respond to the dismal performance at Michigan on January 7th. In the Northwestern game, the Wildcats did score 72 points, but Ohio State's defense down the stretch was big in determining the outcome. So big in fact, the Buckeyes outscored Northwestern 30-10 in points off turnovers. That aspect of Ohio State's game, the defense generating offense, has been a big reason why this team is now 17-1. The win in East Lansing came in an environment Ohio State had already played in this year on the road.....a loud, juiced up crowd rooting for a team that couldn't wait to get a shot at the Buckeyes. With 14,000-plus screaming (and I do mean screaming), the Buckeyes last trailed at 3-2, had the lead as large as 11 points, and withstood every run by Sparty to post the win. Ohio State has now won three straight games at the Breslin Center.
Jan. 10, 2012
Well, it was disappointing, the loss at Michigan Saturday. Not so much in the fact that the Buckeyes lost - no one in reality expected this team to win every game - but the way it lost was the toughest part of the day. Coach Jim Foster has said it often, "defense has to be a constant, as some nights your shots are not going to fall." That was never more evident than in Ann Arbor. While Ohio State's offense struggled to find itself, the defense, which had generated numerous opportunities in prior games that jump-started the offense, did not become a factor in the game until it was too late. Add into the mix that Michigan is a match-up problem for Ohio State, their bigs spend a lot of time on the perimeter, and it equaled a rough afternoon for the Scarlet and Gray.
The other aspect of the loss centers on seeding looking ahead to the Big Ten tournament. Michigan is one of the five conference opponents (with Iowa, Purdue, Michigan State and Penn State are the others) that the Buckeyes play just one time in the regular season. So right now, the Wolverines hold a seeding tie-breaker over Ohio State.
We are also starting to get to the time of the year when I start to spend time reading Charlie Crème's "Bracketology" page on ESPN.com. Creme projects the brackets for the NCAA Women's tournament. In my opinion, he for the most part does a pretty good job, but I find some of his projected destinations for teams a bit interesting. For example, his current update has Ohio State a No. 3 seed and headed to Spokane, Wash. Bowling Green is hosting first and second round games this year in their new on-campus arena. With attendance such a big factor in why schools are allowed to host games and play on their home courts come NCAA time, I find it hard to believe Ohio State would not be a logical choice to go there in March.
I watched Nebraska play at Iowa Sunday and came away very impressed with the Cornhuskers. They are not the most talented team, but do they play hard. Jordan Hooper is a solid player for the Big Red. They have already won at Penn State and now at Iowa - not an easy thing to do for anyone - and come to Columbus a week from Thursday.
Buckeyes host Northwestern this Thursday, then have to go back to "that state up north" to face Michigan State on Sunday. We will find out a lot about the Buckeyes and their mental make-up in these next two games. Remember, the Wildcats swept Ohio State last year, and Sparty, you would have to think, will be lying in wait for Ohio State after the trio of losses they suffered at the hands of the Buckeyes last year.
Thursday we start our coverage at 6:45 p.m. with the tip at 7 p.m., and on Sunday from East Lansing we begin at 3:45 p.m. with the tip at 4 p.m. Both games on 1460 ESPN and as always, free to you on OhioStateBuckeyes.com.
Go Bucks, and we will talk soon!
Jan. 5, 2012
Dec. 29, 2011
Hope you enjoyed your Christmas and as well are enjoying the holiday season...it is certainly one of the best times of the year. Big Ten play starts Friday for the 13-0, ninth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes, when they visit Wisconsin. I think I am as excited about this coming season's race as any in recent memory.
Even though Ohio State is the lone unbeaten right now, I think it is fair to say there is not a completely "dominant" team among the 12 that start competing for the regular season title this week. You can look at every team and find something that will give you a moment's pause when analyzing what each team brings to the table. That being said, from what I have seen to this juncture, Ohio State is as close to a complete team as is in the league. The Buckeyes certainly can get better, and I think improved minutes from Ashley Adams remains a key to this team's success. Adams and Penn State's Nikki Green are perhaps the only "size-wise" post players in a league that really does not have a dominating inside presence. Do not misunderstand, I think Adams may be the best passing post-player Ohio State has had in the nine years I have been calling the games, and she is a very talented shot blocker. It sure seems Ohio State is a much more dangerous team when she plays like she did against Florida State and Oklahoma.
As we enter Big Ten play, here are some favorites of mine around the league (keep in mind, most of these categories are prefaced with "other than Ohio State")
Favorite Atmosphere: Mackey Arena at Purdue. The set up of the Arena makes it feel like the crowd is right on top of you, and 4,000 people sound like 10,000 in there.
Runner-up: Breslin Center, Michigan State. Seems like it's always "Girl Scout Day", or "Elementary School Day" or some type of "day" there when the Buckeyes play in East Lansing, and the building is loud and electric.
Best Arena: Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. That's a basketball arena, from the historic signage around the building, to the seating design. My opinion, but the league is making a HUGE mistake moving the post-season tournament from a city that actually cares about the event, Indy, to one, Chicago, where it is just another in a long line of things going on. Add to the fact the women's tournament will not be played at the United Center and will instead be in the suburbs at a much smaller venue that from what I have gathered, even those who live in Chicago are not sure where it is.
Best Fans: Well, this is easy.....Ohio State. Okay, I know, you expected that. The Rebounders do a great job supporting the team, and the fans who make the bus trips to road games are a welcome sight for the team when it takes the floor. Purdue's fans are very good, and from what I hear, Nebraska has a strong fan base. (I know the two times Ohio State has played there recently they have had good crowds in Lincoln)
Oddest Sight: The Lego Blocks used at the Breslin Center to keep track of time-outs at the scorer's table. They stack them up, and remove each one when a time out is called. Pretty cool actually.
Best Scoreboard Feature: The dancing caricatures of Ohio State's players singing Christmas songs during time outs at the Schottenstein Center. Hilarious.
We will be on the air at 7:45 Friday night from Madison on 1460 ESPN, and don't forget, FREE anywhere by logging on to OhioStateBuckeyes.com.
Go Bucks, we will talk soon!
Dec. 21, 2011
The last week has been a busy one for the Buckeye women's team; a trip to the West Coast, then a "scarlet"-eye flight (get it, Buckeye fans?) back from California, then a Sunday practice followed up by consecutive afternoon games. At this time of the year, with no classes, a player really can ask for nothing more than games, more games, and then just for good measure, more games. That's what the last week and half has sure felt like.
Dec. 14, 2011
Looking forward to a visit to the West Coast as 12th ranked Ohio State heads to California Thursday, the game with the Golden Bears set for Saturday afternoon in Berkley. Ohio State has returned from exams with two easy wins, belting Canisius and Southern by a total of 77 points. Those were two games Ohio State should win by that margin, but it was the approach to each game that I was impressed with. Anyone who follows this program can recall the "thud" that accompanied the team upon the return last year from a week away for exams. An 8-0 start that ended with a loss at Syracuse that quickly unraveled into, well, a mess of a mid-season stretch. The Canisius and Southern wins were highlighted by quick starts, no letdown, impressive ball movement, and a defense that continues to produce steals and points. Jim Foster told me prior to the Canisius game what happened last year after exams was a point of emphasis for his staff this year, and it was good to see the way the team responded. The return from exams this year punctuated by a great 1st quarter grade-wise for the team, something Coach Foster attributed to the approach to the last two games. Congrats as well to Amber Stokes, who recieved her degree Sunday in just 3 and half years!
Dec. 6, 2011
Wow, what an impressive win for the Buckeyes Sunday in Norman against Oklahoma. The 69-63 win over the 18th-ranked Sooners improves the Buckeyes to 7-0 on the season as they head into finals week. Not only did the team navigate a very difficult three-game stretch of LSU, Florida State and Oklahoma, but they did it doing many of the "little" things that add up to wins. A Martina Ellerbe rebound that kept a possession alive and resulted in a key basket Sunday. Emilee Harmon stepping off the bench, providing four points (and two big free throws) and a rebound. Raven Ferguson hitting two large threes in the Florida State game. Scrappiness on the defensive end of the floor from just about everyone and the continued great play on both ends from Tayler Hill and Samantha Prahalis. Confident, but not surprised, seems to be this teams mental outlook right now. The approach to Sunday's game in Norman was the same as it was in the prior six home games, made all the move impressive by the fact it was Ohio State's first road game with a still young team.
The early part of the schedule has been called a test, and it will now be very interesting to see how a team with momentum returns from a week away from game action. Last year's tumble on the return from finals week is still fresh in a lot of people's minds. The Buckeyes will now spend a week dealing with finals before returning to action Saturday when they host Canisius.
The Big Ten has posted some nice wins so far in the non-conference portion, notables include Penn State's home win over North Carolina and Purdue's win Sunday in West Lafayette over defending national champion and fourth-ranked Texas A&M. Ohio State's last three wins would fall into that category as well.
From the "it is indeed a very small world" category: Last Friday I received a phone call from my oldest daughter, Amy. She is serving a tour of duty in the U.S. Navy and is stationed outside the country on deployment. The first thing she asked me on the call was how Buckeye players Ashley Adams and Shelbi Honeycutt are doing. Amy is a huge Buckeye basketball fan and in the past has attended games and gone on road trips, so she knows the team. I admitted to being a bit surprised at her question about Ashley and Shelbi. Amy proceeded to tell me she was having "chow" with Josh McClellan, who just happens to be Honeycutt's brother and what was described as "like a brother" to Adams. Amy and McClellan were just discussing life in general and the topic of what parents do for a living came up, and well, the rest is history - lol. Thanks to Josh for his service to our nation, and of course, to my daughter Amy ... (not that I am proud Dad or anything!).
Go Bucks! We will talk soon!
Dec. 2, 2011
How much fun have the last two games been for the Ohio State women's basketball team? The win Sunday over an athletic, talented, SEC contender in LSU was followed up by a thrilling overtime win against an athletic, talented, ACC contender in Florida State Wednesday. For a Buckeye team that is still learning roles and what it can do, those two wins were huge for the development of this team.
Jim Foster, I think, summed it up best on our post-game show after the Florida State game when he told Toni Roesch and I: "These are the types of games you look back at in March and say they helped determine what kind of team you have become." The play of junior guard Tayler Hill has been nothing short of sensational, especially against the Seminoles. A career high 31 points, including a breathtaking drive to the basket that tied the game at 69 with .03 seconds remaining, were part of her night. Her defense and leadership were huge as well. She had to be the floor general after Samantha Prahalis fouled out in regulation. Another player who elevated her game was Ashley Adams. After taking just four shots and playing 35 total minutes in the prior two games, Adams responded with a double-double, points and rebounds, and played 42 minutes. Her presence in the middle was huge for the Buckeyes in keeping the Seminoles' Cierra Bravard from dominating the paint. Coach Foster felt a little talk he had with the 6-5 Adams in the days prior to the game went a long way towards the night Adams had.
Wednesday's crowd was great, and the type of games witnessed with LSU and Florida State I think are pretty good indicators as to what type of games you will see coming to the Schottenstein Center this year. I have had a number of people already come to me and say "yes, it's a great start, but we have been fooled before by the way this team has played early on in the season". I understand that feeling, but I just sense a different attitude in this group. The style is fun to play, the chemistry mix is good so far, and this team seems to really enjoy practicing and playing together. TV analyst Debbie Antonelli related to me how she asked Samantha Prahalis about handling adversity this year, and Prahalis said: "I'm not worried, I am ready and will deal with whatever comes my way". That may not sound big to others, but I think that's a welcome response from a player who obviously gets the maturity part of being a co-captain this year.
A big test next as the first road trip awaits Sunday when the Buckeyes visit Oklahoma. The Sooners have had a week to get ready for Ohio State. The game is part of the Big Ten/Big 12 Challenge. We are on the air Sunday from Norman at 2:45 p.m. ET, followed by the tip at 3 p.m. on 1460 ESPN.
Nov. 24, 2011
Three games have been played, and Ohio State has posted three wins. Ask anyone associated with the team and they will tell you this team is still very much a work in progress. That's not a bad thing. In fact, I think it's a plus. The change in emphasis from a post-oriented, look-inside-offense first team, to the perimeter oriented, dash and go squad that this team is evolving into, is a pleasure to watch. That is not to say Ohio State teams in the past did not run. Conversely, they were as good as anyone in the Big Tem at that. But the presence inside of a Jantel Lavender or a Jessica Davenport really produced no secrets as to where the Buckeyes were looking first on offense. This team is developing scoring options and different ways to score. Make no mistake, once the Big Ten rolls around, 6-5 Ashley Adams will need to become a presence underneath. But so far, the opposition has not dictated that. I think that changes when LSU visits on Sunday, followed by a very good Florida State team in mid-week, then a visit to Oklahoma a week from Sunday.
Nov. 15, 2011
Many things to like in the season opening 78-51 season opening win over Tennessee State for Jim Foster's team Sunday. Five players scored in double figures, everyone but Amy Scullion(slowed by a foot problem) saw the court and there were flashes of the athletic, get-after-it defense that could be a real bonus for this team as the season goes on.
I know, you are waiting for the negatives now, right? Well, color analyst Kristin Watt pointed out to Jim Fosteron our post-game interview that Tennessee State played the Buckeyes even in the second half. That's about all I can find as a possible negative, but keep in mind, the Buckeyes were up 27 at the break and used many different combinations of players in the final 20 minutes. Getting into any kind of offensive and defensive flow was tough for the Buckeyes in the second half as the coaching staff looked at a number of different things.
I was very impressed by the play of freshmen Kalpana Beach and Raven Ferguson. The two combined to total 20 points and 14 rebounds as they shared time at the forward spot. The level of competition goes up starting Friday, but those type of numbers on a game-by-game basis will go a long way towards making Ohio State a very good team.
Coming up in our next visit, I'll look at the Big Ten through the first two weeks.
Buckeyes host Temple this Friday evening at Value City Arena. Our coverage starts at 5:45 p.m. with the tip at 6 p.m. on 1460 ESPN/97.1-HD2 and www.OhioStateBuckeyes.com.
Nov. 10, 2011
As hard as it may be to believe, Ohio State starts its 2011-12 season Sunday when the Buckeyes host Tennessee State. It seems like it was only yesterday that Jim Foster's team was pushing top-seed Tennessee to the limit in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament in Dayton.