The changes for Dorka Juhász and Ohio State women’s basketball since 2021 transfer

Mar 24, 2023 - 10:01 PM
Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament - Semifinals
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

After three years in Columbus, forward Dorka Juhász graduated from The Ohio State University, playing three seasons with the Ohio State women’s basketball team. Following the 20-21 season, Juhász entered the transfer portal and landed with the UConn Huskies. On Saturday, in the forward’s final NCAA season, she takes on her former team in the Sweet Sixteen.

In those three years, Juhász was the face of a program in flux, missing the postseason in 2021 due to recruiting sanctions against the Scarlet & Gray. Even so, it wasn’t the reason Juhász traveled to Connecticut.

“Obviously, just for me, it was basketball, so I definitely — that was my focus, that I want to go somewhere where I can be challenged more,” said Juhász.

Even if the response sounds like a dig at Ohio State, it isn’t. There’s more beneath the surface. Juhász played three successful years with the Buckeyes. The post player from Hungary averaged 13.1 points and 9.8 rebounds per game across 75 appearances in scarlet, starting all but two of those games.

Juhász left for a new challenge, learn new skills for a move to professional basketball and the chance to play for a National Championship. Each thing she’s gotten under the guidance of UConn and head coach Geno Auriemma, except the National Championship piece.

Last season, Juhász played the first six games of the season off the bench before injuries and her own improvement put her in the starting lineup. Then, as the Huskies advanced in the late rounds of March Madness, the forward suffered an injury.

A wrist injury and surgery left Juhász out of the Final Four and the National Championship defeat to the South Carolina Gamecocks. Ending the most difficult season for the Husky in her five NCAA seasons.

This season, Juhász bounced back and then some. The forward started 28 games for the Huskies, averaging 14.2 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. While those numbers are down ever so slightly compared to her final season as a Buckeye (14.6 points and 11.1 rebounds in 17 games), the 22-23 campaign gave Juhász the growth she hoped to acquire from the transfer.

“This year just the whole different role that I have, just more dominant, obviously having more minutes, just a lot more pressure put on me in games,” said Juhász.

The 6-foot-5 Hungarian is still grabbing rebounds and causing issues in the paint, but on top of that there’s increased success from the perimeter. Overall, Juhász’s shooting is at a 55.5% true shooting percentage, a calculation combining effectiveness of two-point, three-point and free throw shooting.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 01 Women’s UConn at Providence Photo by Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

UConn’s 22-23 season, including injuries to star guard Azzi Fudd, meant Juhász had an increased role in the squad. Culminating in a selection to the First Team All-Big East as the seventh best shooter in the conference.

Now, Buckeyes’ head coach Kevin McGuff has to coach against the star he recruited onto his roster for the 18-19 season. A situation that became possible when the bracket was announced on March 12.

“Well, I was hoping because I knew they would get here,” said McGuff, half-joking. “So I was hoping we would play, get a chance to see Connecticut and her.”

Over the past two seasons, it’s clear that Juhász’s effectiveness, especially in rebounding, was missed by the Scarlet & Gray. Along with the transfer of fellow forward Aaliyah Patty, the Buckeyes post presence suffered. Ohio State forward Rebeka Mikulášiková, who started one game in the first two seasons of her Buckeyes’ career stepped in to start. A different style of player than Juhász.

However, even with that dip, Ohio State’s adjusted and became a new team.

“My time there, I don’t think we pressed as much as they did,” said Juhász. “Also, you know, having amazing guard play. Jacy Sheldon and Taylor Mikesell is just a duo that’s very deadly from anywhere on the court just making threes, making plays for each other.”

In the first year without Juhász, the Buckeyes won a share of the Big Ten regular season title. Also, coach McGuff’s side made it to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since the 16-17 season. Knowing that the presence in the paint wasn’t there as it was in season’s passed, Ohio State leveraged their pace and athleticism.

It’s a situation that doesn’t always work in the transfer portal where both the team that lost a player and the player themselves each flourish from the change.

“I think we’ve evolved as a program in a really positive direction,” said McGuff. “So I think in this case, she went to a great program and we continue to get better, so I think both people are in a good place.”

That place is the Sweet Sixteen of March Madness. Now on Saturday afternoon, Ohio State needs to plan for Juhász.

This season, the Buckeyes have mixed success against bigs, but in most games the opposition gets the better of Ohio State.

USF forward Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu grabbed 17 rebounds and scored 34 points. Outside of the Big Ten Tournament win over the Indiana Hoosiers, forward MacKenzie Holmes averaged 29.5 points in two regular season games. Also, Iowa Hawkeyes’ forward Monika Czinano went 11-for-12 against Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament title game.

Of the three most dominant forwards who’ve gone up against the Buckeyes, it’s a promising sign that Holmes and Czinano each were held to close or under their season averages for rebounding.

Regardless of Saturday’s result, with either the Buckeyes or Juhász and the UConn Huskies coming out on top, there won’t be bad blood between the two sides.

“It’s definitely a little bit more excitement, but it’s still just a basketball game that is a very important game all of us,” said Juhász. “But hopefully after the game we can have some time to connect with my old teammates and people that I know there.”

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