First Thoughts From a 72-58 Win Over Wisconsin
By Tony Gerdeman
The Buckeyes (20-2, 7-2) had some tense moments against the Badgers (8-14, 4-6) at times on Monday night, but when they did, Sammy Prahalis or Tayler Hill usually had an answer.
Hill, the Big Ten's leading scorer at 21.5 points per game, scored 18 points and had a couple of deep threes that struck true.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Prahalis scored a career-high 34 points on 12-18 shooting, including 4-5 from three-point range. She was simply amazing. When she hits step-back jumpers like she did in this game, there probably aren't any defenders who can stop her one-on-one.
In the past, she has used emotion to gain an edge. It was a tactic that would also backfire on her. There is still some emotion in her game, but she is a much colder assassin than she ever was before.
It is going to be interesting to see how the emotionlessness that she has played with all year holds up when the postseason comes.
However, I would be pretty surprised if the "old Sammy" popped back up this season. She's just too mature and calculating to revert back to her previous ways.
Ohio State killed the Badgers on the baseline repeatedly in this game. Even though I didn't keep a shot chart, I am guessing a good 60% of their points came from their baseline action.
Wisconsin couldn't defend any of the four Buckeye guards on the drive, nor could they stay with them on any number of backdoor passes coming from the top of the key.
Attacking the baseline the way the Buckeyes did also allowed them to reverse the ball very easily, which is one of Jim Foster's main preaching points on offense.
The defense was constantly chasing the offense, and it was always a pass behind. The ball movement was terrific. The number of great passers on this team makes every backdoor cut meaningful.
There are no wasted cuts because they can all lead to points, and when they didn't lead to points tonight, they lead to interference, which then led to points.
Foster and his staff clearly saw something on tape, and they attacked it all game long. The Badgers simply had no way to stop it.
The Buckeyes blocked twelve shots and grabbed eight steals. While both of those numbers are impressive, the most impressive number was that they were only called for six fouls while being so active on defense.
Granted, some of that is simply being at home, and we all know that basketball referees are somehow affected by the home court, but most of it comes down to tremendous footwork.
The Buckeyes weren't just reaching in for steals or reaching over for blocked shots. They were moving their feet and getting into the proper position. It was an impressive display of non-stationary defense, and was the major reason Wisconsin shot 11-34 (32%) from two-point territory.
It should be noted that the Badgers shot 12-24 (50%) from three-point range, but many of those baskets came with a hand in their face.
After having their 49-39 lead cut to three points with just under twelve minutes to play, Jim Foster did something that he rarely does in the face of adversity—he called a timeout to stop the bleeding.
Blessed with two talented guards who can calm the shakiest of nerves, Foster decided instead to call a timeout and straighten his team out with their full attention on him. That's how you know things were serious.
It worked. He didn't need to talk to them long. It was only a 30-second timeout. He simply calmed them down.
A play was drawn up for Darryce Moore in the post, and she scored almost immediately. Before the next media timeout, the Buckeyes had built up a 60-49 lead that never dropped back below eleven points.
Foster doesn't often call timeouts, but when he does, he prefers the 30-second variety.
Friendly Confines Thought
The Buckeyes have now won 20-straight games in Columbus, stretching back to last season and including a pair of NCAA Tournament games in St. John Arena.
Their last home loss came to Northwestern a year ago today.
On Sunday they will host first-place Purdue (19-5, 9-2). They will then have home games against Indiana and Minnesota, both of which should be wins.
The BTN announcers were talking about what a tough decision the Big Ten Player of the Year will be this year, and pointed to Hill and Prahalis as two reasons why.
You can go ahead and chalk my vote up for Prahalis. She can score with anybody when the need arises, but she has led this team all season long with very few bumps in the road.
Tayler Hill is a fantastic player, but this is Sammy's team and you're seeing the results of that ownership.
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