Posted: Friday December 8, 2006 3:17PM; Updated: Friday December 8, 2006 4:00PM
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Brandie Hoskins hopes her team can achieve something she's already done. Hoskins wants to see Ohio State prove the doubters wrong just as she's done this off-season.
After becoming the first No. 1 seed to be eliminated from the NCAA tournament last season, it's understandable that few -- if any -- early Final Four predictions include the Buckeyes.
Though Ohio State has lost in the second round in four of the past five years, Hoskins believes the Buckeyes can go the distance, but she also understands why few people are expecting them to.
"We've won the Big Ten championship, but as far as the NCAA tournament goes, we haven't done anything," Hoskins said. "We have a lot to prove to everybody. We have something to prove to those people who said they weren't surprised we lost in the second round."
It wouldn't be the first time Hoskins has exceeded expectations.
After rupturing her Achilles tendon during the second-round loss to No. 8-seed Boston College last March, Hoskins was told her recovery would take up to a year. Yet, she was on the floor last month when the Buckeyes opened the season against Army, and she's been there ever since.
Getting there wasn't easy, though, especially in the early days.
"I hated it," Hoskins said. "My parents always told me that blessings came in disguise, but I didn't understand this message. I was so angry."
To make matters worse, Hoskins couldn't even turn to the one thing that always provided comfort -- basketball.
It's the place Hoskins had turned for refuge so many times before, whether angry, sad or worried. Even when her mother fell ill and underwent a liver transplant, Hoskins was able to escape, ball in hand.
"Whenever anything was bothering me, I've always had basketball," Hoskins said. "Then, I couldn't even do that. I had to actually work things out myself. All I could do was watch other people play."
Turns out, that wasn't such a bad thing.
"It killed me," Hoskins said. "But it also gave me time to reflect on life and my love for the game. I really wanted to try and be more of a leader to my teammates and more of a role model. It helped me mature so much as a person and a player. It gave me a whole new outlook on life."
Unable to play, Hoskins watched others. She watched herself on film. Although she would have preferred her annual summer routine of playing on a court somewhere outside, Hoskins said the chance to watch and evaluate herself proved to be a learning experience.
"I saw some old habits in a couple of games, and I actually had to teach myself not to do those things," she said.
Another thing she realized Hoskins was she needed to do was something head coach Jim Foster had been telling her for years: work on her shooting. And as soon as she was able to stand on the court, that's exactly what she did.