The Ohio State women’s basketball team is set to open its regular season against the Duquesne Dukes on Friday, and Buckeyes’ coach Kevin McGuff knows his team must be better than the 88-79 exhibition showing against Ashland on Sunday.
Following a team practice Wednesday morning, McGuff again expressed his disappointment with his team’s defensive effort against Ashland, but he added a positive spin to OSU’s performance.
“In many respects, that’s probably the best thing for us; a little bit of a wake-up call before we start playing games that count,” McGuff said.
The Buckeyes’ team attention is now set on a Duquesne team that finished the 2015-16 season with a 28-6 record. The Dukes were part of a three-way tie for first place in the Atlantic 10, and they claimed a No. 9 seed in the NCAA tournament before falling to the eventual-champion UCONN Huskies in the second round.
McGuff praised the Dukes for being a well-coached group that executes, adding that they’ll pose some challenges for the Buckeyes.
“Their post players really shoot the ball well from the perimeter, and that’s something that Ashland hurt us with,” McGuff said. “Our ability to defend the three-point line will be critical.”
Luckily for OSU, Duquesne’s top-two scorers from a season ago have graduated. Guard April Robinson put up 14.9 points, 6.4 assists and 5.9 rebounds per game while Deva’Nyar Workman contributed 14.3 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. Also graduated is guard Emilie Gronas, who added 6.1 points and 2.5 rebounds per game.
The Dukes will combat those three losses with a quartet of true freshman. Guard/forward Anie-Pier Samson, who was No. 86 in her class according to ESPN, will join guards Halle Bovell, Kiersten Elliott and Budapest, Hungary-native Nina Aho.
OSU players won’t be watching film on Duquesne until Thursday, but junior guard Asia Doss said that the Buckeyes have been preparing for the Dukes’ style of play.
“(We’ve worked on) a lot of their man offensive sets as far as all the screens they set,” Doss said. “We’ve done a lot of that.”
Along with preparing for its next opponent, Doss said that OSU has spent the entire week working generally on rebounding and defense. That was evident near the end of Wednesday’s practice, when the Buckeyes were running through several defensive sets and critiquing their play from the Ashland game.
OSU will get to put its practice to test against a Duquesne team that lost 29.2 points of offense from a season ago, but McGuff understands that the Dukes are still a dangerous group.
“They’ve got a great team,” McGuff said. “If we’re not defending them, they’re going to make us pay.”
Tipoff for the season opener is set for noon on Friday at St. John Arena.