Ohio State then-freshman guard Janai Crooms (3) dribbles the ball up court in the first half of the game against Rutgers on March 3. Ohio State lost 66-56. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo Editor

Ohio State women’s basketball started practice for the upcoming season with eight new players and five returning. Coming off a 14-15 record last season, the young but talented team is expected to surprise people with its fresh additions, which include seven freshmen and one junior transfer.

Head coach Kevin McGuff said he’s ready to head into the season with the new team.

“They’ve been great,” McGuff said. ”I feel like they’ve made a lot of progress.” 

Given their inexperience, McGuff said the Buckeyes will rely on their older players as leaders. Despite just one additional year in the program, McGuff said his sophomores will shoulder a heavier load.

One sophomore the team can rely on is guard Janai Crooms. She played in all 29 games this past season and had 13 double-digit scoring outings, including eight games in a row to end the season.

Crooms said she has high expectations for the incoming freshmen with all the talent they have.

“They’re getting the hang of how we play here and the style of play,” Crooms said. “They’re very coachable.” 

The adjustment of having so many new players has been a successful process, McGuff said. 

“This summer the players did an excellent job really getting to know each other,” McGuff said. “Developing some chemistry and camaraderie that I think we’ll really be able to rely on this year.” 

One key player the Buckeyes have added to their roster is freshman guard Jacy Sheldon.

“Ohio State is a really special place and it’s made the transition easier,” Sheldon said. “It’s been nice … We’re all together so we’re all going through the same stuff.”

Sheldon set records during her high school career, including top marks for points, steals, three-pointers and overall field goals at Dublin Coffman High School. She also led the team to a 94-12 record during her four years. 

With these accomplishments as a Shamrock, Sheldon said she’s ready to start a new season and prove herself as a Buckeye.

“We all have a strong work ethic and we continue to push each other,” Sheldon said. “If we keep pushing each other, the sky’s the limit.” 

With the season still more than two months out, McGuff said the team’s expectations will be evaluated with more severity once the Nov. 3 tip-off date against Urbana approaches.

“Our goals revolve around having a great preseason and when we get a little closer to games, we’ll get together and talk about what we think we can accomplish with this group this year,”McGuff said.