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Jim Massie | The Columbus Dispatch | November 1, 2014

OSU down to seven players on roster

  Ohio State head coach Kevin McGuff has lost 40 percent of last November's recruiting class to injury.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Seven doesn't sound like such a lucky number to Ohio State women's basketball coach Kevin McGuff after his team's latest injury.

McGuff announced on Friday that the Buckeyes had lost freshman wing Chelsea Mitchell to a season-ending knee injury.

Mitchell, a daughter of assistant coach Mark Mitchell and twin of freshman guard Kelsey Mitchell, will undergo surgery next week to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Her loss pared Ohio State's opening-game roster from a slim eight to a positively skeletal seven players.

"It stinks," McGuff said before adding. "It stinks. It stinks. It stinks. It stinks."

Freshman forward Makayla Waterman already had knee surgery to repair meniscus and ACL injuries that she suffered during the first official practice of the season. Chelsea Mitchell will join Waterman as a redshirt freshman next season.

That puts 40 percent of McGuff's highly regarded recruiting class from last November on the shelf before the team has played a game. Nearly two months will have to pass before transfers Shayla Cooper or Kianna Holland are eligible to play per NCAA rules.

"This is certainly an unfortunate injury for Chelsea and for our team," McGuff said in a university release. "She had done a great job since she got here to put herself in a position to help us this year. We look forward to supporting her now and after her surgery so that she can make a full recovery."

Before Friday's practice, McGuff repeated what he said following the Waterman injury. He will continue to transition toward playing at a faster pace than the Buckeyes could muster in 2013-14 -- at least on offense.

Fouls, however, loom larger given the shortness of the bench that could lead to tired legs and poor decisions on defense.

"We'll probably have to play more zone," he said. "But we'll still try to pressure."

The team's strength remains in the backcourt, where top recruit Kelsey Mitchell likely will join juniors Ameryst Alston and Cait Craft in the starting lineup. Alston (36.4) and Craft (32.1) played heavy minutes as sophomores.

Freshman Asia Doss will join the trio in four-guard, one-post sets.

Freshman Alexa Hart and redshirt sophomores Kalpana Beach and Lisa Blair will rotate at the post and power forward. Beach is returning to action after missing the past two seasons to ACL surgeries.

McGuff didn't appear to like the idea of adding walk-ons to the team yesterday any more than he did after the Waterman injury.

"I don't think so," he said. "It's really too early to say. We just have to push forward. That's all you can do."

The Buckeyes are traveling to Louisville on Sunday for a scrimmage with the Cardinals that McGuff cannot acknowledge per NCAA rules.

The Buckeyes also have a 1 p.m. exhibition game against Eckerd College on Nov. 9 at Value City Arena.

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