The attention given to the Buckeyes last season centered around guards Jacy Sheldon and Taylor Mikesell, and rightfully so. They took charge of the Ohio State offense and put the team’s scoring on their back towards a season title and Sweet Sixteen NCAA Tournament run.
Basketball is a team game, and even they’d say that it took effort throughout the lineup to bounce back from the tough couple seasons the Buckeyes went through leading up to last year. A surprise within last year’s team is next up in the list of Land-Grant Holy Land player previews — forward Taylor Thierry.
Thierry returns after a surprise freshman season, and won’t be able to surprise people anymore. Has she done enough this offseason to take a starting spot?
Name: Taylor Thierry
High School: Shaker Heights Laurel High School (Shaker Heights, Ohio)
2021-22 Stats: 2.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 0.8 apg, .541 FG%, .200 3FG%, .645 FT%
Thierry joined the Buckeyes for the 2021-22 season, and entered a locker room void of presence in the paint. Aaliyah Patty and Dorka Juhasz, both starters for head coach Kevin McGuff’s side, transferred to Texas A&M and UConn respectively after missing a year of postseason basketball. Had they not transferred, Ohio State might not have seen the type of player they have in Thierry.
At the beginning of the year, Thierry earned minutes as the Buckeyes mostly coasted through a light non-conference schedule. They came as Ohio State was up big on the scoreboard, or giving the three primary forwards time to rest on the bench.
As the calendar turned from 2021 to 2022, that’s when things changed for Thierry’s standing in the Buckeyes rotation. After averaging 11.1 minutes for the first half of the season, Thierry’s minutes and responsibilities jumped as high as her.
Although Thierry’s 5-foot-11 frame isn’t the tallest on the court, she’s repeatedly heralded by McGuff and teammates as the most athletic player on the floor. The forward grabbed rebounds and steals, plus blocks inside the paint and outside the arc. Thierry’s minutes moved from at the end of quarters to early in games, against some of the toughest sides in the conference.
Against the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Feb. 10, Thierry tied her season high of nine points and added seven rebounds, three blocks and two steals. Her biggest moment came in the game that earned Ohio State a trophy, in an away trip to Michigan State.
On the final day of Big Ten conference play, Thierry had 11 rebounds and an astounding six steals, on top of seven points, to help lock up a share of the conference title. In the final minute of the game, in a matchup where the Scarlet & Gray were out-rebounded on the offensive boards 24 to 10, Thierry grabbed an offensive rebound off a miss by Sheldon to put herself at the line. The Buckeyes edged Sparty 61-55.
Thierry’s minutes moved up to 18.5 per game in her final 15 games, and only hit single-digit minutes once due to fouls in the Big Ten Tournament Semifinal against the Indiana Hoosiers.
What to Expect
When Thierry gets on the court, mistakes from the opposition are exploited. With her ability to jump and move quickly on the court, blocks and steals that are usually missed by others look easy to Thierry.
In 21-22, Thierry led the team with 28 blocks and finished second with 46 offensive rebounds. What Thierry’s lacked in offense is made up for and then some in how her energy and court presence gives Ohio State an edge.
An area of concern, outside of lower scoring numbers for a potential starter, is foul trouble. Not that Thierry fouls more than others, it’s her reaction to the fouls. While any player is frustrated when they hear a whistle against them, it made Thierry less impactful on the court.
With that said, Thierry is in her second season with the Buckeyes and has the momentum of her last season to build upon. A second offseason, and more time with a team that lost only one starter from last year, should give Thierry the confidence to grow on the team.
Competition at forward is an area to watch in 22-23. McGuff said in the Buckeye’s first media availability of the season that its an open competition across the board. That makes much more sense in the paint.
Thierry will compete with freshman Cotie McMahon and experienced bigs like Rebeka Mikulášiková, Karla Vres and Eboni Walker. It’s a tall task for Thierry, who seems more shy than her counterparts. Even so, Thierry should either start or be the first forward onto the court, like Beacham’s role last season.
If McGuff’s comments regarding Thierry making strides this offseason can come to fruition, and it comes in the form of offensive growth, it could be a year that catapults Thierry to the next level.
Thierry (14) played an important bench role in the Buckeyes final regular season game of the season. Check out her highlights from that game, including a late block and steal leading to a Sheldon fast break, starting at 4:35.
Miss any player previews? Here’s the list so far: