Quarantine wasn’t easy for anyone this year and many found it easy to let go of reality as they slipped into sweatpants and tuned into the madness that was "Tiger King."
Michigan State wing Tory Ozment took a different approach as she prepared for her junior season. She entered this year with the MSU women's basketball team in what she feels is the best shape of her life.
“I got my body in shape," Ozment said. "This is probably the best condition that I’ve ever felt since being here. I have a better motor than I had, that allows me to be able to play defense consistently, run the floor and all of those types of things. I did that, and I got a lot stronger in this offseason.”
That conditioning showed in a 82-45 win over Detroit Mercy on Wednesday night. Ozment’s performance mirrored her team as she had an all around performance finishing with 11 points, five assists and four rebounds.
Ozment got the game going early for the Spartans as she hit two quick corner threes to start. However, it was her extra-effort plays that made her the glue for the team as she dove for loose balls and rebounds including on one possession late in the first quarter.
Ozment snatched a rebound over the Titans and pushed the ball up the court to her teammate Nia Clouden for an easy layup in transition.
“I think that start for me kind of sparked me on defense too,” Ozment said. “The rebounding and the assists I feel like are controllable things, I can do that every night. I can control my effort when I crash the boards and how hard I play on defense. I have set myself to a standard that I have to do those things not for myself, but for the team this year and for us to be successful.”
It's those kinds of plays that a coach like Suzy Merchant loves to see out of her players. Ozment’s versatility will be an asset for a team looking to find its identity moving forward.
"She's a versatile player for us,” Merchant said. “She’s got the length for us to be able to do things defensively and then on offense she’s multi-dimensional. She gets out in transition and runs, she has a little pull-up, she can shoot the three ball and she’s pretty decent in terms of getting that ball inside.”
Throughout the game, Ozment showed a lot of chemistry with her entire team but really seemed to find a connection with Taiyier Parks, whom Ozment was able to find for quick buckets underneath a few times against a Detroit Mercy team that was running a 2-3 zone, which typically can create a lot of turnovers.
When asked about Ozment, Parks lit up with a smile with the opportunity to speak about her teammate.
“She brings energy and effort,” Parks said. “I love to see Tory rebound with me. It’s always nice to have backup on the other side. Tonight, she did very well in rebounds and effort plays all around.”
In her first two years with the Spartans, Ozment sustained a few injuries that never allowed her to play at 100%. This season with the loss of a few seniors to graduation, Ozment has gained the chance to step and be one of the main contributors for a team that has the chance to compete in the Big Ten.
“Last year losing scorers like Taryn (McCutcheon), Shay (Colley) and Coco (Victoria Gaines) it’s kind of like a next man up mentality,” Ozment said. “It’s my turn to step up into that role. We can’t just have Nia (Clouden) as a scorer. We have to have other people and I have taken that to heart and tried to elevate my game in not just being a shooter in driving the ball, being able to distribute, rebounding and running the floor.”
The Spartans will be starting their Big Ten season much earlier than normal as they have a week break until they travel to the Twin Cities to face Minnesota.
As the Big Ten season approaches, Ozment will look to be the glue that holds the entire squad together.
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