Following a three-game home stand, the Ohio State women’s basketball team is set to travel to the Virgin Islands to participate in the Paradise Jam tournament.
The Buckeyes are 2-2 for the season after a 96-86 win at home against Virginia Commonwealth on Sunday. OSU is now set to play in three games over a three-day span while in the Virgin Islands. Coach Kevin McGuff said he wants the team to experience the toughness that comes with playing in a tournament.
“I want our players to get a feel for that,” McGuff said. “It is a bit challenging physically and mentally and I want them to have to go through that too. I want to push them and challenge them.”
McGuff added that he wants the team to get an idea of what it will face when competing in the Big Ten tournament at the end of the regular season. McGuff said playing against different types of teams in a short span will aid the Buckeyes in the future.
“We’ll have to adjust some things that we do,” McGuff said. “I think you kind of have to put your team in that position to be ready for something like that later in the year.”
Junior guard Cait Craft said there are challenges that come with playing a rigorous schedule.
“It is different,” Craft said. “Recovery time is shorter, especially if something doesn’t go your way, (if) you don’t play well you’ve got to get over it much quicker.”
Craft said that while she wants the team to get the most out of the experience, the team’s concentration will remain on the games.
“You want people to have fun,” Craft said. “At the same time when it’s time to be serious and focus we need to get everybody on the same page.”
The Buckeyes will look to gain momentum in the tournament with the help of freshman guard Kelsey Mitchell. Mitchell has led OSU in scoring with 26.7 points per contest this season. Junior guard Ameryst Alston said the upperclassmen of the team respect her as a player and don’t see a need to give her instructions while on the court.
“Honestly she really doesn’t need it,” Alston said. “We don’t look at (Kelsey) as a freshman out on the floor. She’s smart enough and she’s earned her stripes to also give direction to the rest of us.”
Redshirt-senior guard Amy Scullion is also expected to make an impact off the bench for OSU. Scullion made her return to the team on Sunday against Virginia Commonwealth after initially forgoing her final year of eligibility to attend medical school. In her first game of the season, Scullion scored three points while tallying a team-high seven rebounds against the Rams. Craft noted that Scullion has been a big aid to the team since returning.
“Amy is a tremendous help,” Craft said. “She does things well that our team is weak in. She really helps out our weak areas, she has a lot of intangibles that you can’t coach, and having her back is one of the most amazing feelings right now.”
OSU is scheduled to face Clemson on Thursday at 1:15 p.m., Wichita State on Friday at 1:15 p.m., and finish against Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.