First Thoughts From an 83-49 Win Over Southern
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — If you haven't gotten a chance to see the Ohio State women's basketball team this season, when you do finally get an opportunity, you'll notice that they aren't the same Buckeyes you've seen over the years.
Jim Foster has always wanted to run, but that running had to be heavily balanced with half-court post play due to their dominating post players. This season, however, that dominance has switched to the backcourt, and guards Samantha Prahalis and Tayler Hill are making the most of it.
The passing is crisper and the lanes are wider. Defenses can't pack it down, which allows for plenty of one-on-one opportunities as well.
All of this was visible in Tuesday night's win over Southern, as it should have been. That's how this team plays this year, regardless of opponent.
First Thought- Tayler Hill could score 30 points per game if she wanted to. She's averaging around 21 points per game right now, and she hasn't taken a selfish shot yet this year.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Last year she was an okay three-point shooter, hitting 29% of her shots from behind the arc, but she only took 87 shots in 34 games.
This season, however, she's hitting 40% of her threes and has already taken 53 shots from deep after just nine games. She can get to the basket as good as she ever did, but now she's stretched her game to the point of making her one of the toughest defensive assignments in the conference.
While the Buckeyes may ultimately miss having a dominating scoring presence down low like Jantel Lavender, much of her scoring in the past came from the free throw line. Hill is getting to the line around seven times per game, which is fantastic for a guard.
Oh, and she's not just a scorer. Foster has been saying for years that Hill had the potential to be a tremendous defensive player for the Buckeyes. She showed it Tuesday night when she managed to grab five steals in the first half against Southern. She now has 25 steals in nine games.
Post Thought - Last week I asked Foster if he thought that they could plug any combination of posts and forwards into the frontcourt and they would work just fine simply because of who he had in the backcourt.
After all, the three guards of Prahalis, Hill and either Amber Stokes or Raven Ferguson give the Buckeyes an advantage over most teams they face.
But Foster was quick to credit the impact that center Ashley Adams has had in this offense. She is a scoring threat when needed, but so much of the offense still goes through her because of her passing ability. It's no coincidence that she's second on the team in assists.
This wide open passing offense is only as good as its passers, and Adams is one of the best on the team. The offense doesn't grind to a halt when she has the ball. In fact, much of the time, that's where the offense goes to get started.
Deep Thought - Outside of Prahalis and Hill, there are no consistent three-point shooting threats. Forward Martina Ellerbe has hit her last three attempts, but she's not exactly a designated gunner. Ferguson looked like she was going to be the third three-point specialist early in the season, but that hasn't yet come to pass.
Nobody else on the team has hit more than one three-point shot. In fact, only five Buckeyes have hit even one three-pointer.
Whether Foster actually thought this would be a problem or not, he never admitted it publicly. During the preseason, he said that Prahalis and Hill would hit threes, but that the offense itself wouldn't require a great deal of three-point shooting.
So far, he's been right.
Final Thought - Freshman starting power forward Kalpana Beach missed her second consecutive game with an injury, and for the second time sophomore Darryce Moore took her place in the lineup.
Moore responded with twelve points and six rebounds in just 20 minutes of play. She has a tremendous sense of offensive awareness about her. She is able to deftly move away from her man without the ball, and the Buckeyes have the type of guards who will find her.
She is pretty good around the basket, but she showed a nice twelve-footer against Southern that makes her an even more valuable piece to this offensive puzzle.
Beach is more athletic, and has more one-on-one scoring abilities, but Moore has an understanding for basketball and movement that makes everybody around her better. It makes Prahalis look like a better passer, but in reality it's just Moore giving herself an extra two feet of distance between her defender and the basket.
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