Everybody knows that one of the best parts of being a sports fan is debating and dissecting the most (and least) important questions in the sporting world with your friends. So, we’re bringing that to the pages of LGHL with our favorite head-to-head column: You’re Nuts.
In You’re Nuts, two LGHL staff members will take differing sides of one question and argue their opinions passionately. Then, in the end, it’s up to you to determine who’s right and who’s nuts.
Today’s Question: Who will be the Ohio State women’s basketball team’s MVP this season?
Jami’s Take: Madison Greene, Guard
Though the 2020-21 season fizzled out with four losses and no postseason, thanks to a self-imposed ban, the Ohio State women’s basketball team had much to celebrate. They had an 8-2 start in conference play, which included a few major upsets against the likes of Michigan, Maryland, and Indiana. And in a season colored by the COVID-19 pandemic, they proved that they can hang with some of the best teams in the conference.
As the Buckeyes look to continue this success in 2021-22, they’re lucky to have several seasoned players returning to help the team continue on this path to victory. But only one can be the MVP, and it’s going to be third-year sophomore guard Madison Greene.
In two years with the team, Greene has positioned herself as a leader and shows tremendous composure on the court. Offensively, she led the team in assists at 4.3 per game and averaged 13.4 points as well. On the defensive side, she was an energetic powerhouse as well, averaging a sixth-best-in-conference 2.1 steals per game. She received All-Big Ten honorable mention honors for the 2020-21 season.
Matt is probably going to argue that statistically, Greene is really good, but that other players — like Jacy Sheldon — just slightly outshine her in terms of statistics. But Greene’s contributions to the team go so far beyond the numbers.
Greene is the glue.
Don’t believe me? Just look at how the team performed when she missed four games toward the end of the season (presumably for COVID, though it is school policy not to announce test results among student-athletes, so this was never confirmed). The Buckeyes went 1-3 without Greene on the floor, and they scored less while giving up an average of 10 points more per game than in games that Greene played in.
After a rough loss to Michigan in Greene’s absence, teammate Sheldon told reporters, “I think all aspects of her game help us big time, but I think defensively she’s key.”
Her teammates have acknowledged that the poise, energy, and leadership that Greene shows on the court is one of the intangible things that separates playmakers from true MVPs, and in her third year with the Buckeyes, she will undoubtedly rise to the occasion.
With their postseason ban lifted in the coming season, OSU has the potential to make a run in March if they can maintain consistency and avoid baffling losses, like those to Wisconsin and Penn State this past season.
Greene has the mental toughness to help keep the team focused on the court, and while we can expect to see her continue to shine offensively and defensively in terms of statistics, it is the intangible aspects of her game that separate her and will make her the MVP this coming season.
Matt’s Take: Jacy Sheldon, Guard
Here is literally a topic that I feel like Jami and I could have swapped answers, and we both could have felt comfortable either way (not like that shit-show of a musical theatre question, last month), especially since Madison Greene and I graduated from the same high school (Go Tigers!).
But while Jami is trying to discredit my facts and analytics based argument, the edge for Jacy Sheldon is clearly in the numbers. The Dublin native was by far the most productive player on the Buckeyes’ roster during the abbreviated 2020-21 season. She was the only player to start all 20 games (and one of only two to play in all as well), and she led the team in points per game (16.7), field goal percentage (48.6%), and steals (35). She was also third on the team in assists (52), rebounds (73), and free throw percentage (82.4%).
Sheldon was also named to the Big Ten’s second-team by both the coaches and media (in fairness, Greene was an honorable mention on both), so clearly, I am not alone in recognizing that both her stats and her play on the court make her special.
And while her sophomore season was impressive, with OSU’s biggest star Dorka Juhász transferring to UConn and one of their starting forwards Aaliyah Patty moving on to play at Texas A&M, Sheldon is going to need to step up and shoulder even more of the load than she did last season.
But, her teammates know that she is someone who they can count on to finish. After an especially important win over Iowa last season, Patty said of Sheldon, “Once we get a rebound, we push the ball up the floor. We know she’s ahead so we throw it to her. That gets us a lot of buckets.”
That’s the type of confidence that a team should have in its MVP. When a game is on the line, when the season hangs in the balance, you want to know that you have a player that you can rely on to make the plays that the team desperately needs. That is Jacy Sheldon. Sure, glue players are important — look how the men’s team suffered without Kyle Young — but glue holds things together, MVPs are the ones who make things special.
Now, I will say though, don’t count out Massillon-native Taylor Mikesell, who transferred to OSU this offseason following an injury plagued year at Oregon after two seasons at Maryland. Mikesell — the 2018-19 Big Ten Freshman of the Year — was part of two B1G championship teams with the Terps and averaged 12.3 points per game and hit on 41.8% of her shots from beyond the arc. So, between Greene, Sheldon, Mikesell, and the rest of the returning Buckeyes, this year’s squad could have an entire roster of MVPs.
Who has the right answer to today’s question?
This poll is closed
Jami: Madison Greene
Matt: Jacy Sheldon