Freshman college basketball players face the difficult task of quickly absorbing a new team, school and life in a short amount of time.
Ohio State women’s freshmen Dorka Juhasz, Aaliyah Patty and Janai Crooms are in only their second full week of practices with the Buckeyes and are in the process of adapting to a new system, but they’re not alone.
The trio is joined by five graduate transfers, all of whom have experience in the college game but are new to the Big Ten and Ohio State.
“It’s sort of everybody at the same pace, which I guess is good. Well, it’s not good but it is what it is,” coach Kevin McGuff said with a laugh. “It’s good for them that there’s not a bunch of people that are further ahead. It’s not great for me because I want people that are further ahead.
“But our kids are really coachable, they’re learning and they’re getting better every day.”
For Patty, a 6-foot-3 post player from Lombard, Illinois, the biggest adjustments since her arrival at Ohio State in June have been adapting to the quickened tempo of the college game and the time management of a student-athlete.
Like any college freshman, she was a key offensive and defensive contributor for her high school team and is still working to find her role for the Buckeyes. That will require patience, she said.
“We’re all still trying to find our roles and that’s how we’re going to get better — us working together and building and recognizing what people are good at,” Patty said. “We all need to find our roles and that will make us a better team.”
Fellow post player Juhasz has had high-level basketball experience on the international stage with the Hungarian national team but is living in the United States for the first time.
After suffering a knee injury last year, she felt four years in college best suited her development. She began Ohio State’s preseason practices with confidence in her health and abilities on the court as well as her surroundings.
“I needed some days to adjust but now I’m used to it. It’s like my second home,” Juhasz said of Ohio State. “I walk on the streets more confidently, I know which bus is going where and it’s just getting better and better. I really enjoy it.”
McGuff said he expects both Juhasz and Patty to “have big roles and be impactful” with Ohio State’s lack of post players. Crooms, he said, has shown her versatility and is able to play both point and shooting guard.
“I think I’m adjusting pretty well,” Crooms said. “The people that have been here and the coaches are helping me adjust and tell me what I can do to be a better player.”
With eight new players, the 2018-19 season will inevitably come with growing pains for Ohio State, but McGuff is hopeful his freshmen can progress toward their “promising futures” this season.
“I really like the way they’re fitting in right now,” he said.