Read Q&A with reigning Big Ten defensive player of the year
Shavelle Little Q&A
Ohio State junior guard Shavelle Little knows what great defense is about. The reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year has averaged just over 2.5 steals per game for the Buckeyes while also providing leadership as the team makes its final push toward the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.
This is why Little had no problems going on the defensive for questions about her secrets to tough defense, how she dealt with coming off the bench in the beginning of the season and what she plans to do to help Ohio State make a deep run in the postseason tournaments.
Q: You have a reputation as a great on-the-ball defender. Is there a certain mindset you get into when you defend someone?
A: “I try to lock into the person I’m guarding and really make them uncomfortable on the floor. I stay out in front of the ball and I have pretty long arms, so it makes it easier to get pressure.”
Q: You began the year coming off the bench, but recently you have moved into the starting lineup. What did you learn during your time coming off the bench?
A: “I learned how hard the work is and to believe in the value of playing as a team. As a junior, I felt that I needed to step up and show that I could handle some adversity and work through it. ”
Q: Steals are a big part of your game and you are shown among the top of the Big Ten in this category. What do you do to be able to continuously create turnovers and claim a steal?
A: “I study people a lot and know what my strengths are in attacking them. I know I have to use a different style of play, depending on it being a guard or a forward. Watching film helps me, so I can defend better. I study the game in order to be successful.”
Q: How has the addition of freshman Samantha Prahalis to the lineup helped you on the court?
A: “She brings a ton of passion into the game with her. When she comes in she’s always flying around and bringing energy to our team. That level of intensity can make a huge difference for us, because it intimidates the other team and brings us up to her energy level. When she’s on the court everyone rises up and plays with more passion.”
Q: Last season, you won the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year award. What will you have to do down the stretch this season to keep that title?
A: “I have to keep being myself and not try to do anything I know I’m not capable of on the court. I don’t really think about awards too much. I just try to go out and play solid defense when I’m on the floor and try to stop the other team from scoring.”
Q: Your last game against Northwestern you had a season-high 10 points and six steals. What was the key to your success in that game?
A: “I’m not sure I did anything entirely different than normal. Sometimes opportunities come to you and you have to take advantage of them. Like always, I tried to play solid defense and let my teammates help me out. I’ll do the same thing this time out.”
Q: With the Buckeyes gunning for a fifth-consecutive conference title, what can you provide the team to help bring home another Big Ten championship?
A: “I can provide vocal leadership, as an upperclassmen, because we do have some youth on our team. Like usual, I’ll also try to make my impact on the defensive end. We have so many weapons on offense already, so I can make a big difference by doing the small things on defense.”
Q: In recent years, postseason tournaments have seen frustrating ends for Ohio State. What are the keys going to be this season to make sure the Buckeyes have lengthy tournament runs?
A: “Staying together as a team will be the key. If we play smart, team basketball and focus on the teams that we have beat this season, we will do fine. Sometimes we lose our focus, so I have to be someone that makes sure we keep it for the tournaments.”