Ohio State freshman Kateri Poole provides offense in first start without Madison Greene
Ohio State women’s basketball coach Kevin McGuff didn’t have many options to replace starting point guard Madison Greene on Thursday against Purdue, but gave Kateri Poole the first chance at filling in for a player who averages more than 13 points per game and is the team’s defensive engine.
Despite having some “freshman jitters,” she said, the 5-foot-8 guard from the Bronx, New York, gave the No. 15 Buckeyes plenty in a 100-85 victory over the Boilermakers ahead of a trip to Ann Arbor this weekend to play No. 11 Michigan.
"Kateri really helped us move the ball and share the ball,” McGuff said. “We probably missed Madison more on the defensive end as much as anything.”
Poole played a season-high 32 minutes, scoring nine points on 3-of-10 shooting and 3 of 6 from three-point range. Poole isn’t the experienced floor general that Greene is, but she showcased her skill passing the ball with a season-high seven assists.
Greene was listed as “unavailable” against Purdue. That designation came four days after Ohio State’s game against Northwestern was postponed due to an undisclosed individual who had an initial positive COVID-19 test.
Poole didn't expect to match Greene’s impact on the floor, but she still showed her shooting ability and ball-handling. Her vision and passing ability was impressive on a drive into the lane that ended with a no-look assist around the back of a defender to forward Rebeka Mikulasikova to beat the buzzer in the third quarter.
Greene’s contributions go well beyond offense. She's a terrific rebounder for her size and is one of the best on-ball defenders in the conference. Poole was rated as the 24th-best prospect in the 2020 recruiting class by ESPN, but needs time to develop both her offensive and defensive game.
"I can never play just like Madison. I want to say I played my game,” Poole said. “I'm a pass-first type of player so I wanted to get my team involved, and I think I did a pretty good job with that.”
Poole said she wasn’t not known as a defensive player coming to Ohio State. To be fair, McGuff said defending at the Division I level is usually a difficult transition for freshmen. That adjustment was particularly difficult because the coaching staff didn’t have a whole summer to work with Poole due to the pandemic.
But what can work in Poole’s favor for however long she fills in for Greene is her talent with the ball in her hands.
“If she will stay locked in and focused like she was today, her offense can kind of carry the day for her,” McGuff said. "You saw how good she was on offense, so you can say, hey maybe she's going to make mistakes defensively ... but her offense is so good and she's making other people better that it's great to have her on the court."