Ohio State sophomore Taylor Thierry is working to open up on and off the court

Tactics to motivate people are as numerous and diverse as the people themselves. Scattered throughout bookstores and online marketplaces are trainers, business people, and anyone with the time and internet connection to write a book, all sharing their opinions on it have how they get people moving.

Taylor Thierry, a sophomore at Ohio State, doesn’t need motivation to play basketball. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, she is playing the best basketball of her young NCAA career. She has matched and matched her high score in Thierry’s three starts this season (the first of her career), and on Thursday against the Ohio Bobcats she had seven offensive rebounds, a personal best.

Instead, Thierry’s teammates are working to open up the more reserved, timid, forward offense to show Ohio State and the college basketball world their high ceiling. To do this, they are more careful.

“I’m screaming,” senior guard Jacy Sheldon said.

Oh. OK.

“Don’t yell,” Sheldon joked, “but I go at her every day, like a lot of us, because I think we see the potential in it.”

Sheldon and the Buckeyes get a chance to practice with Thierry and see even more potential than viewers already realize.

Thierry’s 5-foot-10 frame jumps to reach the same height as someone 6-7 inches taller. Her wide span and bounce led Ohio State last season with 28 blocks, 11 more than guard Rikki Harris, while playing just the eighth-most minutes on the team. All those minutes as a spare.

Now Thierry is in the starting XI and the expectation goes beyond providing defensive energy from the bench to play on both sides of the pitch. Rating included. In her second off-season as a Buckeye, Thierry worked hard at the Buckeye media day in September, according to head coach Kevin McGuff. On Wednesday, Thierry provided more details on this off-season focus.

“Definitely shoot,” said Thierry. “Because last year I would say that if I wasn’t open I wasn’t that confident in shooting and therefore would never really shoot the ball.”

In three games Thierry has managed that, averaging 9.0 points per game, with a season low of seven points. Compare that to last year, when Thierry scored at least seven points in just four of 30 appearances.

This year, Thierry is making more of the paint, utilizing his ability to quickly cover large swaths of the court and explosive ability to get up. Thierry moves at the low post and hits layups in a tighter space.

There is still room for improvement so that the second division can attack. When the defense against the Bobcats sent an extra defender inside, Thierry was quick to hit whoever was closest.

The forward is also improving when it comes to personal fouls. Last season, Thierry’s game became more hesitant after initial difficulties with the referees.

“I’ve learned that thinking about a bad game or bad fouls kinda affects my next game,” Thierry said. “So now I’m trying to get over it and just walk past it.”

At the start of the season against the Tennessee Volunteers, Thierry was fouled in the fourth quarter. However, up to this point, she continued to play aggressively. She didn’t let the fouls get her down.

Even her ability to speak game has improved. Last season, Thierry spoke once after a game, following an 80-70 win over Nebraska on February 10, 2022. A contest that saw her enter the first half and not leave until the entire team entered the dressing room at halftime . Thierry made plays to turn the game around, with the Buckeyes losing three when she came on court.

Ohio State’s women’s basketball communications director was alongside Thierry on Wednesday, supporting the quieter, timid forward. With this continued support and motivation on and off the pitch, there is still a lot of room to grow.

“She amazes me every day, she’s incredibly athletic,” Sheldon said after the win in Athens, Ohio. “She can also be a real offensive threat, and she will eventually be. It will just keep getting better.”