Tayler Hill looks like a star again

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 29, 2012 - 9:16 AM

 The Minnesota prep superstar was a role player her first two years for Big Ten powerhouse Ohio State. But now she has assumed a starring role for the Buckeyes.

hide

Tayler Hill blossomed as a defender last season, and the former Minneapolis South star has nearly doubled her scoring output this season.

Photo: Terry Gilliam, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Tayler Hill and her Ohio State teammates knew exactly what everyone was thinking. Without Jantel Lavender or Jessica Davenport, the dominant post players who had led them to six Big Ten titles in the past seven years, the Buckeyes finally would be vulnerable this season.

Hill wasn't surprised when Ohio State failed to make the top three in the Big Ten's preseason coaches and media polls. Still, the former Minneapolis South star believed her team was primed to spoil those predictions -- and she planned to play a leading role. The No. 9 Buckeyes will look different in Sunday's game against the Gophers at Williams Arena, with Hill, the Big Ten's top scorer, among the guards directing a more up-tempo offense. The results remain much the same, as they hold the league's best overall record at 20-1.

After blossoming as a fine defender last season, Hill has nearly doubled her scoring output this year. The junior is averaging 21.4 points per game, ranking her 10th in NCAA Division I. She and point guard Samantha Prahalis make a potent pairing, heading an Ohio State offense that tops the Big Ten with 78.5 points per game.

"Everyone thought because Jantel left, we wouldn't be any good," Hill said. "We weren't in any of the discussion before the season, which was fine with us. It just gave us motivation.

"We had the mindset of knowing people thought we were underdogs, and we were going to work extremely hard. Everyone came in open-minded and ready to learn. And we haven't reached our peak yet."

Lavender, a three-time All-America who is Ohio State's career leader in points and rebounds, was among three key players who finished their time in Columbus last spring. She and Davenport ruled the low post for eight consecutive seasons, cementing the Buckeyes' identity as a team that generated much of its offense inside.

While others focused on the gaping hole left by their absence, coach Jim Foster looked at his veteran guards and saw a chance to set a new path. He envisioned the Buckeyes using a fierce defense to create offense, with players who could score in a multitude of ways. Hill, always known for her ability to get to the hoop, had added a pullup jumper and improved her long-range shooting.

With the youngest roster in the Big Ten, Ohio State began the season unranked. Hill and Prahalis took charge of a close-knit group and seamlessly implemented the new style. They have combined to score 40 points per game, half the average output for a team that shoots a league-best 48 percent from the field.

"[Hill] and Prahalis know if they don't play well, they don't win," Gophers coach Pam Borton said. "They've performed well in every single game. Tayler has kind of grown into that role. There's not anything she can't do right now."

Though Hill admitted the transition to the college game was difficult, she is proud of how she has polished and expanded her skills. She made the Big Ten's all-defensive team last year as she averaged 12.4 points per game. This season, she remains one of the league's toughest defenders while becoming one of its best three-point shooters, with a league-high 56 shots made from beyond the arc.

Hill is having more fun than ever, but not because of her statistics. She's found deep satisfaction in defying the expectations others had for the Buckeyes, as part of a team that still expects only the best from itself.

"Everyone doubted us,'' she said. "But we have great team chemistry, and because our frontcourt is so young, we still have a lot of room to grow. I'm excited to see how we continue to develop throughout the season.''

  • related content

  • U women gameday: Gophers vs. No 9 Ohio State

    Sunday January 29, 2012

    Gophers at a glance: The Gophers' two most reliable skills -- defense and rebounding -- have diminished in the past...

  • Chart: In Hill, a scorer is born

    Saturday January 28, 2012

    Between her sophomore and junior seasons, Tayler Hill has raised her scoring average from 12.4 to a Big Ten-leading 21.4....

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Arrieta 2 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: D. Axelrod 7
NY Yankees - LP: S. Kelley 2 FINAL
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 3
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: Y. Petit 4
Tampa Bay - LP: K. Yates 4 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: A. Miller 5
Atlanta - WP: M. Minor 6 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 1
Cleveland - WP: C. Carrasco 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: J. Danks 2
Minnesota - WP: A. Swarzak 11 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: B. Chen 5
Texas - LP: R. Mendez 2 FINAL
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 4
Oakland 3 Bottom 6th Inning
LA Angels 3
Atlanta 24 FINAL
Jacksonville 14
Detroit 23 FINAL
Buffalo 0
Indianapolis 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 35
Kansas City 14 FINAL
Green Bay 34
NY Jets 7 FINAL
Philadelphia 37
St. Louis 13 FINAL
Miami 14
Carolina 10 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
New England 13 FINAL
NY Giants 16
Washington 24 FINAL
Tampa Bay 10
Baltimore 22 FINAL
New Orleans 13
Chicago 13 FINAL
Cleveland 33
Denver 27 FINAL
Dallas 3
Minnesota 19 FINAL
Tennessee 3
San Francisco 40 FINAL
Houston 13
Arizona 9 4th Qtr 14:42
San Diego 12
Seattle 21 3rd Qtr 9:28
Oakland 35
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 24 3rd Qtr 7:48
Washington St 24
Weber State 0 3rd Qtr
(19) Arizona State 31
Temple 14 2nd Qtr 0:56
Vanderbilt 7
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Arizona
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
UCF
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pm
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pm
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pm
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. TBA
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Gophers in their season opener

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close