Entering the season with a talented, experienced group of players, Kevin McGuff knew he’d have to raise standards.
The Ohio State coach and his staff scheduled five games in 10 days to open this season, a stretch that ends Sunday with an 11 a.m. game against Washington (1-1) at Value City Arena.
This is the Buckeyes’ third game in five days. No. 9 Ohio State (3-1) will have heavy legs, has not had consistent stretches of practice this week and will have to adapt to the personnel of yet another roster on a quick turnaround. Those challenges are by design, McGuff said.
“We have a veteran team and we need to be challenged,” McGuff said after a 96-63 win over Quinnipiac on Friday. “It’s a good win, but I expect even more than what we got in stretches tonight.”
Ohio State produced its best stretch of rebounding in the final quarter and got out in transition to punish the Bobcats and widen the margin late but wasn’t consistent throughout the win. The Buckeyes had mental lapses, McGuff said, and at times struggled with communication against a Quinnipiac team that rotated in three to four players at a time.
“Even if we’re off just a little bit then it’s not acceptable,” McGuff said. “What I told the team coming into this week is we don’t have a lot of time to practice, so we have to get better in practice and get prepared for these games. In the games we have to make sure we’re getting better, too.”
Before the season, McGuff said a positive of the compact early schedule would be facing so many different styles and players. Last Sunday, the Buckeyes allowed 47 points to star guard Asia Durr in an overtime loss to Louisville, then had two days to focus on Idaho and one day each on Quinnipiac and Washington.
“It’s a quick turnaround,” senior guard Kelsey Mitchell said. “The personnel switches every day, so when you go to practice the next day you don’t know what to expect. I love it. It’s almost like AAU, so I love it.”
The Washington game came together shortly before the season, when both the Buckeyes and the Huskies sought one more game to add to their respective schedules. McGuff coached Washington from 2011 to ’13, but the final class he helped recruit graduated after last season and the staff has turned over. He hasn't thought much about the matchup beyond X’s and O’s.
“The staff is completely different, all the players are completely different so there won’t be a whole lot of nostalgia on Sunday,” McGuff said. “It’ll just be about showing up and making sure we’re ready to play well.”