OSU women return to St. John vs. Florida

Jeff Thitoff The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio State will visit the past in a number of ways Sunday when it plays Florida.

The game will take place at St. John Arena, the home for the women’s basketball team from 1974 until Value City Arena opened for the 1998-99 season.

“It’s a little more intimate, the crowd’s right on top of you,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. “It’s louder than the Schott, and just with the history of this place, it’s nice to be able to play here.”

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At halftime, Ohio State will honor one of its greatest players, Katie Smith. In addition to setting numerous records during her time at Ohio State from 1992 to ’96 and leading the Buckeyes to the 1993 NCAA championship game, Smith won three Olympic gold medals, a pair of American Basketball League titles, two WNBA titles and earned induction into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and the Naismith Hall of Fame this year. She is the coach of the WNBA’s New York Liberty.

And finally, the Buckeyes will do something they haven’t done much of lately — play a game. It has been 11 days since a 69-59 loss at Washington, and Ohio State (3-3) has just played three times in 35 days. Wildfires in California resulted in two games being canceled.

“We are just trying to get better in those stretches (without games),” McGuff said. “We’ve had a lot of practice time, and I think the kids have embraced that.”

Both teams feature thriving international players.

Dorka Juhasz from Hungary has four double-doubles and is averaging 12.7 points and 9.7 rebounds for the Buckeyes. The Gators are led by Funda Nakkasoglu, a redshirt senior from Australia who is leading the Southeastern Conference in scoring at 20.1 points per game. Nakkasoglu is in her second season with Florida after transferring from Utah State.

Florida (3-6) lost its first six games before winning three in a row.

The outcome may be determined on the boards. Ohio State is 69-6 under McGuff when the Buckeyes own the rebounding edge; the Gators have outrebounded each opponent during their last three games.


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