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Lack of respect for Taylor Thierry’s shooting is a benefit for Ohio State women’s basketball

There was a different Taylor shooting big shots for the Buckeyes on Sunday.

Ohio State University athletic department

When talking about the 23-24 edition of Ohio State women’s basketball, the conversation usually includes a name from previous years in guard Taylor Mikesell. The lights-out shooting guard was well known for getting to practices and games early to take extra shots, which led to big moments in games, and Buckeye victories. On Sunday, fans got a small glimpse of another lights-out shooting performance by a different Taylor: Junior guard/forward Taylor Thierry.

Sunday, in a lopsided victory against IUPUI, Thierry was the most efficient scorer for either side. The guard had 12 points on 3-for-3 shooting, plus a perfect 4-for-4 from the line. Zoom out a bit to look at both games for Ohio State and Thierry is 8-for-9 from the floor and 10-for-10 from the free throw line. The lone shot missed by Thierry was a three-point attempt against the USC Trojans on Monday, Nov. 6.

Against IUPUI, Thierry made up for that.

Of the forward’s three shots on Sunday, all of them were from deep, with one counting as a long two because of her foot on the line. They were also taken from the corner, without the safety of the backboard for a lucky bounce or two.

While the shooting did impact Thierry’s rebounding numbers, grabbing only two which is under Thierry’s 2022-23 average of 6.5 per game, it's indicative of the type of shooter opponents should expect, even though so far they haven’t.

“Yeah, I told you, she’s a great shooter,” said forward Cotie McMahon. “She has more opportunity to be able to get those looks because people aren’t gonna be respecting her shot as much because last year she just didn’t look to, you know, shoot it.”

Last year, head coach Kevin McGuff didn’t need always Thierry to shoot the ball. The guard/forward hybrid used outstanding technique and athletic ability to grab rebounds and hit layups. Also adding mobility and ball handling in the paint to her game. While Thierry still showed those abilities in Ohio State’s loss on opening day to USC, Sunday showed that Thierry can’t be pinned to a player who will hurt a team inside the post.

Sunday’s shooting performance wasn’t a flash in the pan or the planets aligning. Thierry’s shots been refined over her two seasons at Ohio State. It's grown on the practice court.

Thierry, like Mikesell, spent more time in the gym to work on her shooting. After team practices, the Cleveland, Ohio native was in the facility taking shots. It didn’t always show up in the game, which is linked to confidence in that ability.

“I mean, she’s a really talented player,” said Coach McGuff. “I think we need her to be assertive, and she was today, and we need more of that effort.”

Against IUPUI, Thierry didn’t hesitate. When McMahon drew attention while driving in the lane, the forward found Thierry in the corner for a catch-and-shoot. On the next possession, Thierry repeated it. Last year, in similar situations, Thierry was more apt to hesitate and unload to a teammate.

That work by Thierry is going to stretch the court for the Buckeyes this season, giving her teammates more room to work. It’ll also tire out forwards who want to cover the threat. While Thierry starts the game as a guard, so far this season, she’s also played the No. 5 role for the Buckeyes. It creates a mismatch where Thierry either brings the opposing big out of the paint, gives Thierry a favorable matchup against a smaller guard, or allows a teammate to go to the basket without a forward or center looming under the basket.

Thierry isn’t getting the same kind of attention others with her skills receive. The soft-spoken hybrid threat hasn't reached the national conversation, but don’t expect that to last if her start to the season is consistently repeated throughout the campaign.

“I feel like she’s always kind of been the underdog,” said McMahon. “With T-Mike (Mikesell) being gone, yes, it was a blessing having her here. She was a great player, but it just opens opportunity for other players to kind of, you know, feel like they have the chance to be that next star player. So, I feel like for Taylor, she’s more confident.”