Monday’s Halloween night exhibition was scary, mostly for Notre Dame College. In a game that wasn’t expected to be close, the Ohio State Buckeyes women’s basketball team took care of business to the tune of a 118-33 scoreline. While the game doesn’t count in any sort of standings, there are notes from the Scarlet & Gray’s performance. Here are the things that stood out.
The Starting Five
Head coach Kevin McGuff went with a different look Monday. He went with the usual starters with guards Jacy Sheldon and Taylor Mikesell, along with forward Rebeka Mikulášiková. The other two spots were the surprises.
As preseason practice began, the talk focused on the return of Madison Greene, offseason improvements for returning sophomore Taylor Thierry and incoming four-star recruit Cotie McMahon.
McMahon and Thierry got the starting nod. It was surprising at first, but the final numbers on the night told a different story of who could lineup against the Tennessee Volunteers on Nov. 8.
In McMahon’s first game with Ohio State, she set the tone early, from right after the tip-off. McMahon charged the basket and drew the first foul of the game within seconds. The freshman made her first free throw, and after missing the second charged the basket to grab her own rebound and hit the lay-up, completing an unconventional three-point play.
That was a good representation of McMahon’s night as a whole. The speed she possesses was evident, with her looking like the fastest player on the court using the eye test.
Anytime McMahon had the ball, there was a strong chance that she was attacking the basket. When McMahon wasn’t trying to score herself, she was making big passes. In the second half, McMahon made two court-length passes. The first, to Mikesell, was made in Mikesell’s stride, making for the easiest lay-up for the guard on the evening.
Also, the forward’s court presence was fantastic, with McMahon leading everyone on the court in assists, with six.
However, the excitement of her first game led to McMahon forcing some situations that with time will turn into more assists. Even so, McMahon’s decision to join the Buckeyes in Jan. was still evident.
Although Greene didn’t start, she played 20:38, one of only two players to hit the 20-minute mark. Greene had 12 points, five assists, and two steals on the evening, and looked confident after returning from knee surgery. Not only did she lead the team in minutes but in the +/-, with Ohio State hitting 49 with Greene on the court.
It didn’t look like Greene hasn’t played for the Buckeyes in 628 days.
Shumate Hits Her Shots
Transfer and Newark, Ohio native Emma Shumate came in as a substitute guard and showed off her shooting skills. Shumate’s shot looks effortless, even from deep and on the corners. The West Virginia transfer hit four of six from deep, leading all players with 18 points.
Looking at Minutes
Post-game, McGuff talked about how Monday’s game focused on getting different groups onto the floor to see how they played together. Looking at the stat sheet, two players had more time than anyone else in McMahon and Greene.
Mikesell, Sheldon, and Mikulášiková played less than 20 minutes a piece, but that’s likely by design. They’re each frontrunners to start at their positions, after all.
Last season, McGuff played a rotation of eight different players. Monday, 10 players showed that they can log minutes, including guard Hevynne Bristow who started one game last season before being relegated to a bench role for the rest of the year.
The remaining four players, transfer forward Karla Vres and a trio of underclassmen guards in Kaitlyn Costner, Mya Perry and Kaia Henderson played 5:37 or less. Barring injury or blowouts on the scoreboard, it feels like there won’t be much of them in games this year.
For the second season in a row, Thierry started in a Buckeyes exhibition game. This time around though, it was in a guard position. McGuff opted for McMahon and Mikulášiková as his two forwards Monday, when Thierry and McMahon fighting for the starting forward spot seemed evident.
It doesn’t mean that the fight changes, with Greene a likely starter in Thierry’s place, but McMahon and Thierry played different games Monday.
Thierry’s evening was scrappier than McMahon’s. The sophomore took three shots, making two, and didn’t do much on the boards. Instead, Thierry was dishing and stealing. Of Ohio State’s 40 forced turnovers, Thierry led the team with four steals. Twice coming up from behind, poking the ball away, and creating a Buckeyes fast break, highlighted in the video below.
Unfortunately for Thierry, she also got in the most foul trouble, earning four. Although it could be argued that some of the fouls came from referees who are also in the preseason.
McMahon and Thierry bring different things to the court, and Monday isn’t the lone deciding factor in who starts against Tennessee, but if the offense is the deciding factor, McMahon is the favorite.
Playing almost 20 minutes on the night was Syracuse and Arizona State transfer, forward Eboni Walker. In those minutes, Walker played in Mikulášiková’s center role and almost hit a double-double but was one rebound shy.
Walker’s play looked effortless out there as if there’s another level underneath the surface that a big game could bring to the surface.
The forward hit all five of her shots, including one from midrange. Walker also added two assists, a steal, and a block on top of her 10 points. Playing the minutes Walker played makes sense, considering she transferred this summer and needs time to acclimate.
However, if Walker’s performance, and plays like the buzzer-beating rebound and pass to Greene can be replicated against teams like Tennessee, Indiana, and Iowa, she might not be a backup for long.
The Usual Suspects
Players like Sheldon, Mikesell, and Harris didn’t need to show a lot in the game. They each showed their abilities last season, leading the Buckeyes to a regular-season conference title.
Each played how you’d expect. There was some rust for Mikesell and Sheldon, going 2-for-10 from deep, with Mikesell hitting 2-for-8. It looked like nothing more than rust, and not needing to prove anything in the preseason.
Mikesell played stronger defense, creating a steal/block combo play under Notre Dame’s basket in the first quarter. Sheldon was the first player on the court to hit double-digit scoring.
Harris came into the game later than expected, after Shumate, but Harris played strong. The guard tied Greene in +/- and had 13 points and six assists.