For each of the last eight years, Ohio State has had the Big Ten's best player.
Now, it's up to Tayler Hill to extend the streak.
Samantha Prahalis won the conference player of the year award a year ago, following a tradition starting with Jessica Davenport (2005-2007) and Jantel Lavender (2008-11).
Hill, who led the Big Ten in scoring last year at 20.7 points a game, says she's never been on an Ohio State team that was closer heading into a season.
''It's not a fake thing,'' she said. ''We really get along, we really care about each other, on and off the floor. It's probably my first year I can say that about everybody on the team.''
Hill, defensive whiz Amber Stokes and post Ashley Adams provide a solid core for coach Jim Foster's Buckeyes, who open the season on Friday night on the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown in Charleston, S.C., against Notre Dame.
Stokes, the conference's defensive player of the year, also has marveled at how the Buckeyes have come together.