Dishin & Swishin 3/12/15 Podcast: Ohio State breaks into the Top 25, while Baylor reminds us that they never left
Conference tournaments are coming to a close and on Monday we will find out who goes dancing and where their respective ballrooms shall be.
Two teams that have earned their way there are Ohio State from the Big Ten and Baylor from the Big 12. On this week’s podcast, we are pleased to welcome back their respective coaches, Kevin McGuff and Kim Mulkey.
Ohio State entered the fall with high hopes and expectations, in part due to an influx of talented new players, including freshmen Kelsey and Chelsea Mitchell, Makayla Waterman, Alexa Hart, and Asia Doss, plus transfer Kianna Holland. However, in a two-week span, Holland, Chelsea Mitchell, and Waterman were hit with season-ending injuries, dramatically altering the Buckeyes’ landscape.
McGuff put the ball in the hands of one of the country’s best backcourts, Kelsey Mitchell and Ameryst Alston. The duo averages 55 percent of Ohio State’s points and account for 51 percent of their shot attempts. Mitchell leads the Big Ten in scoring, Alston is third; both are in the top fifteen in assists as well. In addition, Mitchell is a finalist for the Wooden Award and the Dawn Staley Award.
Their late season surge to the Big Ten conference finals (where they fell to fourth-ranked Maryland) has propelled Ohio State into the top 25 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches Polls, and has McGuff thinking this team can be seeded as high as a four or five. Not bad for a team that many thought could not recover from their injured beginnings!
Down in Big 12 country, there is no “newness” to success at Baylor. Mulkey’s team won their seventh conference championship since 2005 and ranked 5th and 6th in the nation in the two polls, respectively. Were it not for four days at the end of February, when Baylor suffered back-to-back road losses at Oklahoma and Iowa State, we would be discussing Baylor as a possible number one seed in the NCAA tournament.
What makes this team’s success even more impressive is the team’s youth. Only center Sune Agbuke is a senior. The top four scorers on the squad are sophomores: Wooden Award finalist and conference player of the year Nina Davis (21.1 points per game), Imani Wright (10.1), Khadijiah Cave (10.0), and Alexis Prince (8.5). Junior point guard Niyah Johnson is averaging a nation’s best 8.6 assists per game, and she is second in assists to turnover ratio at 3.63 per game.
How far Baylor will dance remains to be seen, but there is no denying that Mulkey has a talented team, with a dominating post player in Davis.
To summarize, they are two great coaches with aspirations for a long tournament run this year and high expectations for the future.