Lantern file photo
Coming into a season with big shoes to fill, the Ohio State women’s basketball team is opening its 2012-13 campaign in a big way.
The Buckeyes open their season on Friday at the Carrier Classic against Notre Dame, and OSU is ready to start the year with three returning starters, including senior guard Tayler Hill, a preseason watch list candidate for the Wade Trophy.
“I think it’s a big accomplishment personally as a player and it’s a good thing to be named,” Hill said.
The senior guard is one of 25 NCAA Division I women basketball players named to the list for the 2013 State Farm Wade Trophy, which is awarded to the nation’s top player each year.
The Minneapolis, Minn., native is no stranger to earning awards, either. Hill was a first team All-Big Ten selection last season and a member of the Big Ten’s All-Defensive team for the second succeeding year.
Buckeye coach Jim Foster said it was not a surprise for Hill to be included on the list because of her performance last season.
“She is a four-year starter, she had a great junior year,” Foster said. “She is a great player from both an offensive and defensive point of view and she is a very respected player.”
Hill led the Buckeyes and the Big Ten last season in points scored, averaging 20.4 points per game. She averaged 12.4 points per game as a sophomore.
The senior guard does not see herself making a big jump in points this season from her junior year.
“I probably won’t jump as high as I did from sophomore year to junior year but around that range or a little higher,” Hill said. “From sophomore to junior year it was all about experience.”
Alongside Hill, redshirt senior guard Amber Stokes and junior center Ashley Adams return as starters. OSU will have to do without sophomore forward Kalpana Beach who suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Beach served as a starter for the Buckeyes last season.
“Kalpana Beach just had surgery and will not play this year, but we got some depth and experience in her position,” Foster said. “We will see who steps up to the challenge.”
Foster said junior center Darryce Moore, junior forward Martina Ellerbe and senior forward Emilee Harmon will need to step up to fill Beach’s shoes this season.
Despite the loss of Beach, Hill said the team chemistry shouldn’t be affected.
“I think it’s a good thing because we have played with each other over the years and have more experience in the front and backcourt and we know where each other are on the floor,” Hill said. “The chemistry is there between us.”
Foster said the talent of former point guard and 2012 Big Ten Player of the Year Samantha Prahalis, who graduated and now plays for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, cannot be replaced.
“Defensively, we are going to have to be a really good basketball team and we show signs of being that,” Foster said. “Offensively, no one player can take the place of Sammy Prahalis and we have to do that with a real team effort, and with every indication I have seen, this team is very willing to do that.”
The Buckeyes are scheduled to open the season aboard the USS Yorktown in Charleston, S.C., on Friday against Notre Dame at 4 p.m.