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: Which Ohio State women’s basketball player should you keep your eye on heading into March?
Jami’s Take: Cotie McMahon
The OSU women’s basketball team has been an absolute pleasure to watch this season (yes, Negative Nancy, even though they’ve lost a couple), and they’re thankfully not done yet. Despite a tough loss to Indiana this week, their future heading into March looks bright, and there are a few players we’re keeping our eyes on to step up during the tournament.
It’s hard to choose one player to watch because this team plays so well as a team. They work as a unit, they bounce off each other, and they are clearly having fun doing it.
But it has particularly been a joy to see freshman forward Cotie McMahon (a native Ohioan from Centerville) take the court this year.
Don’t be fooled by her age, and don’t underestimate her just because it’s her first year at the collegiate level. She’s been a forceful impact player for the Buckeyes all season, even being named Big Ten Freshman of the Week five times this year (as recently as last week, after her role in the Buckeyes’ 93-63 win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers). Only Kelsey Mitchell – who was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week six times and who went on to become the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 WNBA draft – has won the award more times in Buckeye program history.
McMahon is averaging 14 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, one of six Buckeyes averaging double-digit PPG. But McMahon’s skills go far beyond the stats and awards.
Her composure on the court remains one of the most impressive things about her – especially when you consider she is just a freshman. It’s hard to oversell her ability to remain level-headed and in control even when the Buckeyes are down, her ability to draw fouls, and her consistency on the court.
The Buckeyes have been plagued with injuries this season, forcing McMahon to step up as a team leader. Guard Madison Greene is out for the season. Jacy Sheldon returned from an injury, only to sit out the last two. Forward Rebeka Mikulasikova sprained her ankle against Minnesota and has been out.
And still, McMahon keeps producing. Even in the Buckeyes’ brutal 83-59 loss to Indiana this week, McMahon did her best to keep her team in the game, putting up 22 points, including 12 in the first half. That’s impressive on its own. Add to it the fact that she was feeling under the weather, and you’ve got a pretty good reflection of her grit and gameplay.
All of these elements will make her an absolute delight to watch in her first March Madness tournament. She’s more than ready to shoulder her load in carrying the Buckeyes, hopefully, to victory.
And the beautiful thing is that as a freshman, she’s just getting started.
Matt’s Take: Jacy Sheldon
Now that the Ohio State women have wrapped up their regular season, it’s time to turn our attention to the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments. To me, for the OSU women to truly reach their potential, they will need all of their best players on the floor, and they can’t do that without Jacy Sheldon.
The senior All-American has missed over 20 games this season with a lower leg injury, and has only played once since Nov. 30. The guard gave it a go against Maryland on Feb. 5, but was only able to manage five points in 25 minutes as the Buckeyes fell 90-54. Head coach Kevin McGuff has said that she was day-to-day ever since.
Fortunately for OSU, the team has seemingly figured some things out since Sheldon last appeared as on Friday night, they came within a last-second bucket from beating No. 7 Maryland, and that has to make any fan excited for what could be... assuming Sheldon returns to anything approaching her normal form.
The Buckeyes will not play again until Friday, March 3 in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament in Minneapolis, their opponent is still to be determined, but as the No. 4 seed, they will take on either the No. 5 seed or the winner of the No. 12 and No. 13 game. If they win their quarterfinal matchup, they will then — likely — face the No. 1 Indiana Hoosiers who beat OSU 83-59 on Feb. 13.
I checked in with our women’s basketball beat writer Thomas Costello, and he said that while McGuff has not provided much clarity into his plans for Sheldon, if she plays, it would likely be against IU.
“If I had to guess, I’d say Jacy plays the second game of the tournament, should OSU win the first,” Costello said. “Because beating Indiana will be tough and it’d give her one game before the NCAA Tournament. I don’t see her playing the first [game] because playing two days in a row after just coming back isn’t logical.”
If Sheldon is aiming to play in the Big Dance, getting a game or two under her belt beforehand would be ideal. At this point, I don’t think it makes sense to expect her to automatically return to the form she displayed before she was injured as she was averaging 16.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per outing, but if she can provide a complement to Taylor Mikesell, Cotie McMahon, Taylor Thierry, Rebeka Mikulášiková, and Rikki Harris who have been carrying the load, that would be a bonus.
In Friday night’s buzzer-beating loss to the Terps, McGuff only played seven players. The aforementioned five, Eboni Walker who started and played 21 minutes, and Emma Shumate who came off the bench for nine minutes. Walker and Shumate combined for just three points in those 30 minutes of action.
It’s been an up-and-down year for the Ohio State women’s basketball team. In addition to losing Sheldon for the majority of the season, they also lost her replacement Madison Greene shortly thereafter. Despite those blows, they began the season 18-0 and rose to No. 2 in the country before losing three straight. The team is 4-3 in the month of February, but just 1-3 against ranked opponents in that time. So, if the Buckeyes are going to go on a run during this postseason, getting Jacy Sheldon back in any substantive way would seem to be almost essential.
Who has the right answer to today’s question?
This poll is closed
Jami: Cotie McMahon
Matt: Jacy Sheldon