Tactics to motivate people are as numerous and diverse as people themselves. Littered across bookshops and online markets are coaches, business people, and anyone with the time and internet connection to write a book who’ve all shared their spin on how they get people moving.
Ohio State starting sophomore Taylor Thierry doesn’t need motivated to play basketball. The Cleveland, Ohio native is playing the best basketball of her young NCAA career. Across Thierry’s three starts this season (the first of her career) she’s met and matched her high in scoring and Thursday, against the Ohio Bobcats, grabbed seven offensive rebounds, a personal best.
Instead, Thierry’s teammates are working to open the more reserved, shy, forward to show Ohio State, and the college basketball world, her high ceiling. To do so, they’re taking a more delicate approach.
“I yell,” said senior guard Jacy Sheldon.
“Not yell,” Sheldon joked, “but I get on her every day, as do a lot of us because I think we see the potential there.”
Sheldon and the Buckeyes have the opportunity to practice with Thierry and see even more potential than’s already evident to those watching the games.
Thierry’s 5-foot-10 frame jumps to reach the same heights as someone six to seven inches taller. Her long wingspan and leaping ability led Ohio State with 28 blocks last season, 11 more than guard Rikki Harris while playing only the eighth most minutes on the team. All of those minutes as a substitute.
Now, Thierry’s starting and the expectation goes beyond providing defensive energy off the bench but playing both sides of the court. Scoring included. In her second offseason as a Buckeye, Thierry put in the work, according to head coach Kevin McGuff at the Buckeye’s media day in September. Wednesday, Thierry gave more details on that off-season focus.
“Definitely shooting,” said Thierry. “Because last year, I’d say I was not that confident in shooting and so I’d never really shoot the ball unless I was open.”
In three games, Thierry’s done that, averaging 9.0 points per game, with a season-low seven points. Compare that to last year, when Thierry scored at least seven points in only four of 30 appearances.
This year, Thierry’s doing more in the paint, leveraging that ability to cover large chunks of the court quickly and explosive ability to get up. Thierry’s moving into the low post and hitting layups in more crowded space.
There’s still room for improvement for the sophomore to attack. Against the Bobcats, when the defense did send an extra defender inside, Thierry was quick to dish to whoever was closest.
The forward’s also improving when it comes to personal fouls. Last season, Thierry’s game became more hesitant after early trouble with the referees.
“Learned that reflecting on a bad play or bad fouls, it kind of affects my next play,” said Thierry. “So I try to get over it now and just move past it.”
Starting the season against the Tennessee Volunteers, Thierry fouled out in the fourth quarter. However, she continued playing aggressively up until that point. Not letting the fouls get her down.
Even her ability to talk game has improved. Last season, Thierry spoke after a game once, after an 80-70 win over Nebraska on Feb. 10, 2022. A contest where she entered the first half and didn’t leave until the whole team entered the halftime locker room. Thierry made plays to turn the game around, with the Buckeyes down three when she came onto the court.
Ohio State women’s basketball communications director was next to Thierry, on Wednesday, providing support for the quieter, timid, forward. With that continued support and motivation on and off the court, there’s still ample room to grow.
“She amazes me every day, she’s incredibly athletic,” said Sheldon following the win in Athens, Ohio. “She can be a real offensive threat too, and she will be eventually. She’s just going to continue to get better.”