Everybody knows that one of the best parts of being a sports fan is debating and dissecting the most (and least) important questions in the sporting world with your friends. So, we’re bringing that to the pages of LGHL with our favorite head-to-head column: You’re Nuts.
In You’re Nuts, two LGHL staff members will take differing sides of one question and argue their opinions passionately. Then, in the end, it’s up to you to determine who’s right and who’s nuts.
Today’s Question: What Christmas gift would you give the Ohio State women’s basketball team?
Thomas’ Take: Consistent Three-Point Shooting
It’s the festive time of the year and that means giving gifts. Ohio State women’s basketball is well known for its ability to take things from opponents, namely steals through a high-intensity press. However, this season the Buckeyes have been generous against its biggest opponents: Giving them opportunities to rebound.
Now, I’d give more rebounding to the group, but that isn’t something that the scarlet and gray have needed over the past two seasons to come away with wins.
Monday night, against the UCLA Bruins, there was a strong likelihood that the away side was going to come out on top in the rebound margin, and they did. After all, the Bruins featured 6-foot-7 center Lauren Betts and four additional players averaging at least five rebounds per game. UCLA outrebounded Ohio State 40-30.
Even so, the Buckeyes were within two possessions at the final whistle. What would have gotten Ohio State the victory? Better shooting.
This offseason, the scarlet and gray were left with a huge hole from beyond the arc with the graduation and move to the professional ranks for guard Taylor Mikesell. The Northeast Ohio native left the NCAA with three seasons leading the Big Ten in made three-point shots and her final season in second (although the 116 made was a career-high in a season, only eclipsed last year by Iowa’s Caitlin Clark). Mikesell’s impact wasn’t only felt on the scoreboard, in the three-point stat line.
No, Mikesell gave everyone more room to move. The shooting gave defenses fits, forcing double-teams on the guard. Mikesell hit the most in a single season with the opposition throwing not only its best defender but often a second to help because of the lightning-quick release.
This isn’t a dig at the Buckeyes today because the players in the 23-24 season have different strengths than Mikesell, in areas where the shooting guard wasn’t the strongest. For example, even though it's a down year hitting shots from deep, Ohio State is second in the conference in stopping opponents from hitting threes. The gift is a few more makes a game.
Currently, Ohio State sits 12th out of 14 Big Ten teams in three-point average, and ninth in makes per game. After the game Monday, against UCLA, Betts spoke with the media and said that the lack of shooting from deep allowed her to play closer to the paint. Playing closer to the paint meant players like guard Jacy Sheldon and forwards Taylor Thierry and Cotie McMahon had less success going to the rim.
McMahon had seven points, and six came from beyond the arc. Sheldon and Thierry, who led the game with 30 and 20 points respectively, scored a combined five from beyond the arc. When those shots were falling, Ohio State was either winning or cutting away at leads.
The more threes go in, the more the defense has to move. The more the defense moves, the more other players have room to maneuver.
This holiday wish is replacing the classic, “You’ll shoot your eye out” with a Buckeyes rendition of, “You’ll shoot the lights out.”
Football? What’s a football?
Matt’s Take: A Dominant Post Presence
Far be it for me to disagree with anything Thomas says about the Ohio State women’s basketball team, because not only is he our resident expert, but he is also the best there is at covering the team, but based on my much less expert viewing of the team so far this season, I am asking Santa to slip an elite post player under the tree tonight.
The Buckeyes’ top-rebounder is currently 6-foot wing Taylor Thierry. She heads into Christmas with 73 boards, which is good for only 18th in the conference. Second on the team is 6-foot-1 forward Cotie McMahon, who has 64, outside of the conference’s top 25. As a team, Ohio State ranked 11th in the conference in total rebounding. And I recognize that because of the suffocating style of defense that the Buckeyes play, their opponents don’t get off as many shots as they often do otherwise (OSU has allowed the fourth fewest field goal attempts in the B1G this season), but that doesn’t account for the full rebounding disparity.
As Thomas mentioned above, in the Buckeyes loss to UCLA, they were outrebounded 40-30 by their future conference foe. That is just a few weeks after OSU lost to another soon-to-be B1G colleague as they fell to USC by a score of 83-74. In that game, the Buckeyes lost the rebounding battle 43-28.
Now, I am not saying that Kevin McGuff’s team lost both of those games strictly because they were beaten on the glass, but it certainly feels that there is more causation than correlation there.
So far this season, the Buckeyes are also 11th in the conference in blocked shots, so at the top of my Christmas list for the team is that in 2024, a dominant post presence is developed, whether that is someone currently on the roster like veteran Rebeka Mikulášiková or true-freshman Faith Carson, or if Santa wants to work some of his holiday magic to bypass NCAA rules and gift an All-American center to the team on Christmas morning.
Who has the right answer to today’s question?
This poll is closed
Thomas: Consistent Three-Point Shooting
Matt: A Dominant Post Presence