Watch audio slideshows of the senior day ceremony and the Big Ten trophy presention and celebration at the links above.
Senior Day Program Story: Unfinished Business
By Adam Widman, Ohio State Athletics Communications
Senior day is special for everyone involved. Some will live in the moment. Another might take a moment to flash back to their first days on campus. Some will laugh and smile, while others may shed a tear amongst family members, teammates and coaches.
For seniors Marscilla Packer, Tamarah Riley and Alice Jamen, senior day is a culmination of four of the finest years in Ohio State women’s basketball history, accomplishing something only two other classes at OSU have done before: win four-consecutive Big Ten championships.
But there is still work to be done. These seniors realize there is unfinished business that rests ahead today against Northwestern and remain focused and determined to get one final home win for Ohio State.
The 2007-08 campaign has been a trying season in contrast to recent years when the rest of the Big Ten struggled to keep up with the mighty Buckeyes. After starting out 6-1 in league play, Ohio State lost three of its next five contests and quickly found itself in a dog fight one that has tested the team’s toughness, character, and competitive drive throughout the season.
Through all the ups and downs, this senior class still has a chance today to accomplish what they set out to do at the start of the season just not exactly how they drew it up. A championship win, though not as easily won as in the past, will be just as rewarding, if not more.
“I think it’s been fun. It’s definitely different than in years past,” Packer said. “Chasing teams in the standings instead of always being in front has helped us focus more and to take one game at a time. You always want to be at the top. But in a way, it’s nice to not always have that target on your back.”
Packer, a member of OSU’s 1,000-point club, has inked her name in the Buckeye record book forever, etching her name next to the likes of Caity Matter and Katie Smith as some of the best scorers and 3-point shooters in school history. But there’s only one stat she deeply cares about.
“That would be a fourth Big Ten championship, without a doubt,” she said. “It would be the best way to go out. These four years have just gone by so fast, I can’t even explain it. I remember when I ran out onto that floor for the first time. I’m just trying to enjoy it all.”
No matter the outcome, these three seniors have made memories that will last their entire lives.
“I am definitely going to miss all my teammates,” Riley said. “We have grown into a family and I know them very well and love them all. The friendships I’ve made here will stay with me for the rest of my life.”
Riley, from Detroit, Mich., has taken full advantage of an opportunity to start in her final season. Since the start of Big Ten play, she has come into her own, shooting a Big Ten-best 62 percent from the field with three double-doubles, including 15 points and a career-best 16 rebounds Monday at Indiana. But the humble leader, who’s always led by example and put the team ahead of herself, took no personal satisfaction in her memorable game. Instead she spoke of her disappointment in the final score.
“Personally, I didn’t really feel good about the game at all,” Riley said after the game. “If your team loses, you lose too. It doesn’t matter how good you play.”
Jamen, meanwhile, is the epitome of perseverance, hard work and dedication. Having faced possibly the toughest challenge of the three, she came to America from Cameroon, attending high school in Wheeling, W.Va. to obtain a chance at a high quality education, using her athletic skills as her platform to success. The most difficult part, she said, was the task of not only learning the English language, but leaving her family and adjusting to life in America thousands of miles away from home.
Jamen’s hard work and dedication, both on and off the court, earned her Ohio State’s Phyllis Bailey Award for the “player that best demonstrates athletic achievement, academic responsibility, effort, enthusiasm and loyalty to the program.”
“It was such a great honor for me to receive that award,” Jamen said. “I can’t explain how honored I was to get it.
“I’m working on my master’s degree right now because I want to do something in healthcare back in Cameroon and sometimes I use my competitive side to help me be better in the classroom. That’s what is so great about being a student-athlete because you can take the competitive side of sports and put that into the classroom. It gives you something to fall back on.”
Jamen has had limited appearances on the floor in her four years at Ohio State, but has always been ready when called upon. In a game at Northwestern this year, the senior came off the bench and pulled down a career-high 11 rebounds and scored four points in only 10 minutes of action. Then in a game at Minnesota, Jamen came off the bench and provided a much-needed spark with three assists and two blocks as Ohio State mounted a rally.
“Being on a team that has won three and hopefully four championships is a great accomplishment because it’s something most schools in the Big Ten would never have the opportunity to do,” Jamen said. “I just want to be remembered as someone who always tried her best and worked hard.”
And there is no doubt fans of Ohio State women’s basketball will remember the entire 2008 senior class that way, too.