Sunday, August 9, 2020

How Michigan State women's basketball's Tory Ozment has instilled toughness into her identity

From taking charge at practice to changing her game to help the team, Ozment has cemented grit into her legacy for the Spartans

February 26, 2020
Sophomore guard Tory Ozment (1) during the women's basketball game against Michigan at the Breslin Center on February 23, 2020. The Spartans fell to the Wolverines 65-57.
Sophomore guard Tory Ozment (1) during the women's basketball game against Michigan at the Breslin Center on February 23, 2020. The Spartans fell to the Wolverines 65-57. —
Photo by Connor Desilets | The State News

In high school, she’d get up at 5:00 a.m., before the sun came out, make her way to the gym, and get 500 shots up before school started. That’s just the mentality that Michigan State women's basketball sophomore forward Tory Ozment has. She’s gritty, tough and not afraid to do the dirty work.

Maybe that’s why she takes charges in practice as much as she does in the games.

“I just like to do the little things, I mean, I don’t think every player does those type of things,” Ozment said.

“Those are like the dirty work, people call it, I think those are the difference makers in plays so I try to put myself in that position where I can be that player for my team and just do whatever we need, and I think those small things make the big plays in the long run.”

Those little things have become cemented into the Spartans' identity and have led to big things. Ozment has shown up with her grit in crucial times.

“I think the way that she plays and takes charges at crucial times in the games, those are momentum changers,” senior guard Taryn McCutcheon said after Ozment’s performance against Michigan on Feb. 23. “We really needed that in tonight's game. She does do that a lot, especially on the defense end.”

Ozment does whatever she can to help on the court — that stretches to her offense too. Shooting 33.8 percent from the three-point line, she has been pegged as a shooter. While she can make that shot, Ozment has been making adjustments to be as effective as possible while on the court, and it all stems from her hatred for losing.

“I just really hate losing, I just want to do whatever I can out there,” Ozment said, “I think a lot of people scout me as a shooter, so I’ve been trying to drive to the basket more, just do some different things, try to control the things I can control.”

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When Ozment says she is doing whatever she can to help, she means it. Primarily a guard, she has made the switch to forward to help the team out. The veterans trust her in the position, and she has earned a starting spot as a sophomore.

“It’s awesome," Ozment said. "It’s different though, ‘cause we have so many veterans on our team. But it makes me feel really good that my coaches and all the veterans have that trust in me to start the game."

“Especially at my position, because I’m primarily a guard, being a forward's a little different but I love it, I’ll do whatever we need to do."

But the position didn’t come easy. Ozment has had to work for everything she has.

She has carried her mentality from the early mornings at Buford High School in Georgia to East Lansing, but now, she’s not alone. Surrounded by coaches and teammates' support, Ozment has an entire community in the same grind that she had started before her college days.

“Our coaches pour into us so much,” Ozment said. “We have a lot of pre-practice workouts, post-practice, so I have great coaches and teammates too that push me.”

Ozment has helped build a toughness in her team. Doing the dirty work may not always be pretty, but it is what the Spartans need.

“We need Tory to do that all the time and she does," McCutcheon said. "I think that she does that a lot in practice, so she’s not afraid to get nitty and gritty."

“Sometimes that gets her in trouble, but honestly I don’t really mind because that’s the kind of toughness that we need right now from her and from everybody else. ... She’s the kind of player that other teams don’t want to play against and that’s who you love to have on your team."

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