The Ohio State women’s basketball team held its annual media day on Thursday, and the main source of excitement for this year’s team was clear.
“More bodies, for sure,” junior guard Asia Doss said with a laugh. “Way more depth with the team.”
The Buckeyes will indeed bring in an influx of talent this season. True freshmen Jensen Caretti, Kiara Lewis and Tori McCoy, who all ranked in the top-31 in their class according to ESPN, will join transfers Stephanie Mavunga (previously at North Carolina), Sierra Calhoun (Duke) and Linnae Harper (Kentucky) for their first season as Buckeyes in 2016-17.
Coach Kevin McGuff hasn’t sorted through lineups or playing times yet, but he said that he enjoys what having depth does for his team.
“With the amount of people that we have right now, it’s a great environment,” McGuff said. “The competition seems to be bringing out the best in each other.”
OSU faced several depth issues during the 2015-16 season, including low-post play. The Buckeyes’ lack of inside depth hurt the team in its Sweet 16 loss to Tennessee, where Lady Volunteers’ center Mercedes Russell scored a game-high 25 points.
While the additions of McCoy and Mavunga should help the team’s inside presence, junior guard Kelsey Mitchell was not shy about holding the entire team accountable for the Sweet 16 loss.
“I think that the preparation has to be different,” Mitchell said. “I’m not going to say that we didn’t prepare, individually or as a group, but I would say that Tennessee prepared far more than we did, along with everybody else that was able to make it to the Final Four.
“This year, we’re going in with a different mindset as far as our preparation,” Mitchell said. “I think this year, now that we are maturing, the small stuff will be important for us.”
Improvement on the defensive side of the ball was also a talking point on media day. Several OSU players mentioned offseason efforts to improve that area of the game.
“This year, we have a lot more player-to-player coaching, because a coach can’t see everything, so I feel like we are on each other to make each other better,” Doss said. “In practice, we’re doing defensive drills, we’re making sure everyone is talking, everyone is paying attention, participating and in the right spot.”
The Buckeyes may be looking to change certain aspects of their identity, but McGuff said that his team will still look to run the floor.
With a roster made up almost entirely of McGuff’s recruits, the coach said that he believes this set of players fits his fast-paced mindset better than in years passed.
“I was really fortunate to inherit great kids … but they all didn’t quite fit what we wanted to play,” McGuff said. “We’ve done a good job of adding people who fit our style of play.”
McGuff, along with several of his players, believe that this could be a special year for the Buckeyes.
“I’m optimistic that we could have a terrific season,” McGuff said. “We have a lot of work to do, like everyone, but it’s been a great start so far.”
OSU will take on Ashland University in an exhibition game on Nov. 6, before officially opening the 2016-17 regular season against Duquesne on Nov. 11.