Eric Beiersdorfer / Lantern photographer
Having won the past six Big Ten regular season titles, the No. 25 Ohio State women’s basketball team (11-6, 2-3) isn’t used to facing adversity. Coach Jim Foster, however, is no stranger to it. In fact, he considers it somewhat of an ally.
“I hate going through this. I hate it. But I also like part of it,” Foster said. “You get to measure yourself; you get to measure your friends; you get to measure your character.”
After starting this season with seven straight wins, the Buckeyes hit a midseason skid at the end of their non-conference schedule and at the start of the Big Ten season. They lost six of their next nine games before beating then-No. 9 Michigan State (16-2, 4-1), 67-53, on Sunday.
Foster cited experiences at his previous coaching jobs at St. Joseph’s (Pa.) and Vanderbilt as examples of times in which his teams have experienced rain before seeing sunshine.
“My 1989-90 St. Joe team had a problem and had to work it out and did,” Foster said. “The last team I had at Vanderbilt lost five in a row in the SEC and went on to play Notre Dame in the Elite Eight game to go to the Final Four.”
After OSU’s win against MSU on Sunday, Foster said he saw a quality in his team that it needed to acquire in order to bounce back like his previous teams did: toughness.
“Players are starting to realize what they can do to be tougher,” Foster said. “Toughness is not being more physical. Toughness is: Do you grab rebounds with two hands? Toughness is: Can you execute offense under duress? Toughness is walking to the foul line, needing to score from the foul line and scoring, not missing your shots.”
Foster pointed out OSU guard Tayler Hill, who bounced back from scoring one point in a loss to Northwestern by scoring 17 points against MSU, as an example of a player getting tougher.
“She wasn’t tough in Chicago,” Foster said. “She was real tough in Columbus. Real tough.”
Hill said that aside from toughness, accountability would be key for the Buckeyes to return to their winning ways.
“The hardest part is probably me looking at myself and not pointing other fingers at my teammates because things go wrong,” Hill said. “But we came together.”
Since a 1-for-13 shooting performance against Michigan on Dec. 30, OSU guard Samantha Prahalis has bounced back with a scoring average of 16.6 points in the Buckeyes’ last five games. Prahalis echoed Foster’s thoughts that dealing with the unfamiliarity of losing could make the team strong in the long run.
“I hate being here, but I don’t mind it,” Prahalis said. “Either you’re going to fall or you’re going to scratch back up. I don’t mind the adversity.”
Foster said the lessons that his team is learning now extend past life on the hardwood.
“It’s not pull up your shorts and knock the other team’s socks off,” Foster said. “It’s the little detail things, just like every day life. The tough things that make you more happier and more successful.”