Women's basketball: Atypical offseason led Ohio State's Dorka Juhasz to expand her game
Dorka Juhasz was stuck.
Midway through her Ohio State basketball career, she found herself caught in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring.
While many of her teammates had gone home to be with their families and await whatever came next, Juhasz didn’t really have that option. The native of Hungary was stuck in limbo, living in her Columbus apartment and waiting to see when – or if – it would be safe for her to go home and then return to campus without incident.
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There was a bright side. With few options at her disposal, Juhasz was able to further devote herself to improving her skills. Now, with the start date for the 2020-21 season looming, Juhasz is inching closer to being able to show off the fruits of those labors as a junior.
“That was the thing that helped me through all these changes: If I’m not able to go home and not able to be with my family, then I might as well use this time to get better,” she told The Dispatch. “I worked a lot on getting faster and maybe slimmed down a little bit. The lifting part, just to get stronger for my third year, and also worked on skills I maybe wasn’t as good at before – ball-handling and reading situations and shooting off the dribble.”
It’s clear the expectations are as high as ever for Juhasz, who eventually was able to return home and spend time with her family. She’s one of 50 selections for the Naismith Trophy watch list for national player of the year and is a member of the Big Ten’s all-conference preseason team (a unanimous selection by the coaches) after being named first-team all-league a season ago.
This season, though, coach Kevin McGuff said he’s looking for even more.
“She showed up as someone who was good around the basket and could play on the perimeter, and she’s really worked really hard on her perimeter skills,” he said. “She’s got a unique skill set and it’s even gotten better. She’s handling the ball a little bit better, shooting the three a little bit better. She’s in the best shape that she’s been in.”
In other words, look for Juhasz to have a more wide-ranging impact on the floor for the Buckeyes this season. Asked what that might look like, Juhasz said she envisions being able to nab rebounds and start a fast break herself.
“I’ve become even more versatile with my height, just being able to control the boards and bring it up the floor,” said Juhasz, who is listed at 6 feet 4. “I think I’m already doing a better job doing that, getting a rebound and just start pushing it and bringing it up and play from there.”
That could lead to even more production from the only player to lead the team in both scoring and rebounding during each of her first two seasons. As a freshman, she averaged 11.7 points and 9.0 rebounds while shooting 25.4% from three-point range. Last season, Juhasz upped her totals to 13.2 points and 9.4 rebounds per game while shooting 39.6% from deep, the second-best mark on the team.
McGuff said that is the type of player he has in Juhasz: one who is never satisfied with where she currently is.
“She’s gotten better each year,” he said. “She really takes seriously working on her game, so it doesn’t take a lot to motivate her to do this. You can really see that right now.”