In the joy of an overtime victory, there’s also sadness for the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes women’s basketball team. In the fourth quarter of their eventual 88-86 win over the USF Bulls, starting point guard Madison Greene went down with an apparent knee injury. The pain was evident for Greene, on the court holding her leg as teammates looked on, visibly shaken for their teammate and friend. With Greene likely out, who can fill the role Wednesday night against the No. 16 Oregon Ducks?
It’s not an easy role to fill. Greene is one of two regular point guards for the Buckeyes, along with guard Jacy Sheldon who’s also likely out due to a lingering lower leg injury. This season, the two split starting duties, with Sheldon starting the year running the Scarlet & Gray’s offense before going to the bench with her leg injury.
Greene’s come up big of late, including in Tuesday’s win. Before leaving for injury, the guard scored 14 points, with 12 coming in the second half. Her final play of the game was a three-point shot, putting the Buckeyes ahead for their first lead of the game.
Here are Ohio State’s options to replace.
The pick that makes the most sense is guard Rikki Harris. Since Sheldon’s injury, Harris is the first guard off the bench and the Buckeyes’ sixth player. When Ohio State needs a lift of energy or defense, Harris is the name to fill the role.
Harris started 11 games for the Scarlet and Gray last season after now-LSU guard Kateri Poole sustained an injury and Sheldon slid into the point guard position. While Harris didn’t play point guard, more of a third guard to stretch the floor, head coach Kevin McGuff trusts Harris in pressure situations.
Against the then-ranked Louisville Cardinals, Harris came off the bench and played 26 minutes, her highest of the year. In the win, the guard grabbed 10 rebounds and six assists.
Another positive is Harris has experience at point guard... in high school. Now, that doesn’t necessarily help in such a short turnaround between games, only 24 hours before jump-balls, but it’s the player who makes the most sense.
A list of options wouldn’t be complete without guard Taylor Mikesell, but that wouldn’t make much sense for Ohio State. It seems highly unlikely.
Mikesell is a shooting guard. Even though she’s tied for second on the team with 25 assists, and knowing that the First Team All-B1G guard likely has the skills to slide into a point role, that’d put Ohio State at more of a disadvantage.
Why? Because why change multiple players into different roles instead of only one? Mikesell can make plays on the defensive end of the court, find open teammates, and run an offense but Mikesell’s more dangerous in the second guard position.
Last season, when Greene went down in practice before the Buckeyes started their season, Bristow started the first game for the Buckeyes. The guard didn’t start again for Ohio State, mostly due to lingering injuries throughout the year, but she’s shown flashes in the early 22/23 season.
Twice this season, Bristow’s helped the Buckeyes get back into the rebounding game, grabbing eight in games against McNeese State and North Alabama. While those aren’t the same caliber of teams as the USF Bulls or No. 16 Oregon Ducks, Bristow’s healthy and could step up in a big game moment.
Last night, when foul trouble brought Harris and forward Rebeka Mikulasikova out of the game, Bristow played 10 minutes and scored two points. It’s not an offensive explosion but looking at the scoreline, it was pretty important.
Guard Emma Shumate isn’t a point guard at all. If anything, the guard’s played similarly to Taylor Thierry’s flexing between guard and forward, but Wednesday isn’t a normal situation.
Shumate averages 12.7 minutes per game, the most of any healthy non-starting guard. It’s the Newark, Ohio native’s first season with Ohio State, but coach McGuff speaks highly of her basketball knowledge, growing up with a basketball coach as a dad and playing with siblings who also play NCAA basketball.
This season, Shumate leads the Buckeyes with 10 blocks. If Ohio State plays less traditionally, without a true point guard, Shumate can come in and be that spark who finds the right positions and anticipates opponents’ moves.
It’s not likely that the start goes to Shumate, who hasn’t started a game this season but expect more minutes.
Ohio State has three other guards on the roster in Kaitlyn Costner, Kaia Henderson, and Mya Perry, but neither of the three has seen time on the court, outside the final minute of blowout Buckeye victories.
No matter who McGuff chooses on Wednesday, Ohio State’s going to look different. It’s nearly impossible to replace Sheldon or Greene on this short notice.
The best the Buckeyes can hope for is leveraging the unexpected against Oregon, which it looks like that’s what the Ducks will get from Ohio State.