Bobcats battle Bonnies until whistle is blown

By John Kocsis

The Ohio Bobcats edged out the St. Bonaventure Bonnies 69-64 to win their 15th consecutive game at home.

Overall the game was sloppy. The Bonnies had 20 turnovers and 21 fouls and the Bobcats turned the ball over 12 times to go along with their 22 fouls. The Bonnies shot 56% from the free throw line and the Bobcats shot 65%.

The Bobcats started off lethargically, until they hit a string of three consecutive three pointers with about five minutes to go in the first half. Going into the second half, the Bobcats led 37-29 and St. Bonaventure guard Eric Mosley was the high point man with 12 points. DJ Cooper had  eight first half points and four assists.

In the second half the Bobcats fell behind again, not regaining the lead until late in the half. After they lost the lead with 10 minutes in the half, they did not regain a multiple possession lead until there were 20 seconds left in the game.

There was a dog pile on the floor of the Convocation Center over a loose rebound that the Bobcats recovered, and after that, the game was sealed.

Mosley finished with 19 points and fellow guard Chris Johnson, who leads the Bonnies in average points per game, had 17. Bonnie center Youssou Ndoye turned the ball over seven times in his two point and six rebound effort.

Cooper led the way for the Bobcats with 16 points, but Walter Ouffet scored 14 points and Nick Kellogg added 13. The top performer for the Bobcats may have been on the defensive end of the floor. Jon Smith, who scored six points and had four rebounds, had a total of four blocked shots and three steals.

The Bobcats, who are ranked 13th in the NCAA in field goal percentage, averaging 50.9% from the floor, shot 46% compared to the Bonnies 47.7%. St. Bonaventure was on fire from behind the arc, shooting  57.1% on 8-14 shooting—that was higher than their free throw percentage.

Ohio will travel to Moon, Pennsylvania to play Robert Morris Saturday Dec. 1.

Bobcats hope to win 15th straight in the Convocation Center

By John Kocsis

Tomorrow night, the 5-0 Ohio Bobcats will play the 3-1 St. Bonaventure Bonnies at 7 p.m. at the Convocation Center.

Saturday the Bonnies beat Niagara 80-75. Senior Chris Johnson led the way for St. Bonaventure, scoring 19 points for the third consecutive game. He averages 16.5 points per game.

The Bonnies sole loss was at the hands of the 3-1 Canisius Golden Griffins November 17. The Golden Griffins overcame a 37-32 first half deficit to win the game 72-69. Canisius went on a 10-4 run in the final 6:23 seconds to close out the game.

The Bobcats are trying to finish their six-game home stand to begin the season undefeated before heading off to Moon, Pennsylvania to play Robert Morris (3-4) Friday at 7. Coincidently, Robert Morris is the last team that Ohio lost at home to. Since then, they have won their last 14 home games by an average of 16.3 points.

This year the Bobcats have an average margin of victory of 24.6 point per game. Saturday, the Bobcats routed Richmond (4-2) 73-48. Both of the Spiders losses are away– the other was against Minnesota.

The Bobcats should not have too much trouble getting their 15th consecutive home victory as they have better statistics in every single offensive category and their defense allows 14 less points per game than the Bonnies. Ohio averages 77.4 points per game to St. Bonaventure’s 71.5, average 17.8 assists to 15.3 and shoot .509 from the field compared to .440. Ohio’s field goal percentage is ranked 14th in the nation and their assists per game is 18th.

Some of St. Bonaventure’s key players are senior forward Demitrius Conger, who averages 14.5 points per game, 3.5 assists per game and a team high seven rebounds per game, Johnson, who averages 16.5 points per game and 4.8 rebounds per game and junior Matthew Wright, who averages nine points per game, 2.8 rebounds per game and 3.8 assists per game.

The Bobcat to watch for against St. Bonaventure is senior Ivo Baltic, who ranks second on the team in points, rebounds and assists, with 12.4, five and 2.4 respectively.

Ohio Sports Zone gives many thanks

Kayla Hanley and Taylor Petras bring in the Thanksgiving week with Ohio Sports. The Women’s volleyball team is on their way to the MAC championship while the OU Hockey is continuing their strong home winning streak. Be sure to stay till the end to see who is the most thankful this fall season.

First Bobcat loss at home gives hockey the momentum to win

By: Alex Utano

The Bobcats looked to rebound after suffering their first home loss of the season and did just that. Indiana gave all they had, coming back from an early four goal deficit, but it wasn’t enough as Ohio defeated Indiana University 7-6 Saturday in front of a packed Bird Arena.

The Bobcats got off to a red hot start, scoring on their first three shots of the game. Michael Harris netted his 12th goal of the season with a slap shot coming down the wing just 31 seconds into the contest. Brett Agnew then continued the scoring with a forehand backhand move to make it 2-0 Bobcats. The third shot, and third goal, came off the stick of Garret Williams. Tom Whestel then scored minutes later to make the score 4-0 Bobcats.

But as the previous night showed, Indiana wouldn’t go away quietly. Two goals were scored by the Hoosiers in the final 5:15 of play in the first period, one was scored shorthanded. The score was 4-2 Bobcats headed into the second period of play.

Indiana continued to stun the Bobcats in the 2nd period. Less than four minutes in the score was tied up 4-4 and Bird Arena was silent. Not more than five minutes later, the Hoosiers continued to stun everyone in Bird Arena, taking their first lead of the night 5-4.  However the Bobcats bounced back as Brett Agnew netted his second goal of the game, making the score 5-5 with one period left to play.

It took under five minutes into the third for the Bobcats to steal the momentum. Jonathan Pietramala scored to grab a 6-5 lead. Captain Tyler Pilmore scored about a minute later to make it 7-5. But the Hoosiers, once again, fought back, cutting the score to 7-6 with less than five minutes left in regulation, setting the stage for a frantic last few minutes. There were chances at both ends but the Bobcats held on to a 7-6 win in an exciting hockey game.

Bobcats soar over Pilots in home opener

By: Chris Saulnier

After revealing a banner honoring the team’s sweet sixteen appearance last March, Ohio University took the court against the Portland Pilots looking to begin their season with a win in a packed Convocation Center.

As the first half began, Ohio’s forward D.J. Cooper knocked down two three-point jumpers to keep the Bobcats neck-and-neck with Portland who capitalized on Ohio’s sloppy play early.

Following Cooper’s scores, the Bobcats went cold and were not able to score for another three minutes until Cooper found Reggie Keely on a fast break and Keely slammed the ball through the hoop to reignite Ohio’s offense.

Strong bench play from Nick Kellogg and the Bobcat’s ability to force turnovers combined to help Ohio comeback from an early deficit and tie the game 33-33 as the first half came to a close.

When the Bobcats returned from the locker room to start the second half, they looked like an entirely new team. Ivo Baltic, Nick Kellogg, and Walter Offutt all began to heat up providing a surge for Ohio on both sides of the ball.

Ohio’s defense shut down the Pilots in the second half as the Bobcats began rebounding, forcing turnovers, and drawing fouls. Portland only managed to score 19 points in the second half of the game while Ohio added 48 to their tally bringing the game to an 81-52 end in favor of Ohio.

D.J. Cooper led the way for Ohio by scoring 18 points, collecting five rebounds, dishing out six assists, as well as stealing the ball three times in the game. Forward, Ryan Nicholas came off the bench for Portland to lead them with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Reggie Keely, Ivo Baltic and Nick Kellogg all scored in double digits for the Bobcats. Kellogg matched Cooper with 18 points, Keely collected 13 of his own and Baltic added 10 points to the mix.

Ohio shot 50 percent from the field and 47 percent from three-point range, while Portland only shot 35 percent from the field and 29 percent from three-point range. Ohio forced 23 Pilot turnovers and the Bobcats only turned the ball over 12 times, a statistic that was key to the Bobcats victory.

Ohio’s next match-up will take place Friday, November 16, at home against the North Carolina-Wilmington Seahawks at 7 p.m.

And so it begins

By Ryan Boyd

March 23rd, 2012, 3:40 left on the game clock: Thousands at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis erupt as the 13th-seeded Ohio Bobcats build a four-point lead over top-seeded North Carolina. ‘Cats supporters across the nation hold their breath as if they were being swallowed by a violent ocean wave.

What was originally considered an unrealistic chance at an all-time upset, perhaps even a miracle, was within grasp. The Bobcats could see the path to the regional final.

Then, within moments, it was gone. Walter Offutt missed one of the more memorable free throws in Ohio history and the Tarheels silenced the entire Ohio nation.

In the words of Dick Vitale, it’s heartbreak city, baby.

231 days later, the college basketball season has returned. The sneakers are laced, the Convocation Center is prepped for action and the ‘Cats have everyone back on the court – well, at least those that matter.

Consider this: Ohio brings back all five starters and more than 97 percent of the scoring, rebounding and assisting from last year’s team. In fact, the three players that departed accounted for just 54 points in 37 games.  I’m no math major, but I can tell you that those figures show their irrelevance.

D.J. Cooper leads the returners as one of the more dynamic point guards in the nation. Sure, I may be biased, but the numbers don’t lie. Cooper needs just 76 assists and 88 steals to become the all-time Mid-American Conference leader in each category. He will also (likely) finish in the MAC’s top 10 in career points scored. Simply put, he will end his career as arguably the greatest point guard in conference history – and almost certainly the best at Ohio University.

Behind Cooper is a wealth of depth and a number of returners who are built to succeed at different distinct parts of the game. Jon Smith is a lanky annoyance on the defensive end of the court. Nick Kellogg routinely arrives at the arena with a flamethrower strapped to his back as he ignites the three-point line. Stevie Taylor is a landmine waiting to explode with positive energy. And Offutt provides indispensable leadership on the court. The list goes on.

Now I realize the one missing part of the equation from a year ago is head coach John Groce. He took his talents to Illinois in what was a respectable move from the young, successful coach.

My thoughts? Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Groce.

Yep, I said it. I wasn’t sold on Groce. There’s no denying that he put Ohio basketball on the map, and I may be a bit bitter that I won’t be shaking his hand after every home game. But realistically, his coaching strategy wasn’t fool proof – especially when a contest was in the closing seconds. How many Bobcat fans have gone bald from pulling their own hair out as Cooper heaves a desperation shot from half court… following a timeout. It was laughable.

And replacing Groce is a proven coach in Jim Christian. Statistically, he is the most successful coach in MAC history and he has taken a group of players above and beyond the ‘Cats accomplishments of last season. Even at a dismal TCU program, Christian built a commendable offensive club that put together an above .500 season in 2011-12. The guy knows what he is doing.

Joining Christian is a couple of transfers that will complete the Bobcats roster. Leading the charge is 6-foot-8 forward Kadeem Green, who left Missouri – yes, the nationally ranked Missouri Tigers – last spring to come to Athens. He will miss the first few weeks due to NCAA transfer rules, but upon his return the ‘Cats will have an absolute steal. Green is an impressive physical specimen with terrific length and finishing ability on the fastbreak. In other words, he sounds like Cooper’s newest top weapon.

With the addition of Green, the Bobcats finally have all of the makings of a dominant mid-major basketball team. Ohio will have a four-man rotation at the power forward position, which gives Christian some much-needed flexibility when there is foul trouble. Also, the ‘Cats have a plethora of solid shooters. Any college basketball follower knows that the three-point shot is the great equalizer, and that is brought to the table with Travis Wilkens, Kellogg, Offutt and Taylor. Most importantly, the Bobcats will be electric on defense. The ball pressure will be fierce and teams will be forced into poor decisions repeatedly. Don’t believe me? Ask Mercyhurst. They committed 32 turnovers in the exhibition game last weekend.

Admittedly, no season is completed on paper. Ohio should be favored in the majority of their contests and they have a wonderful opportunity to break the rankings in the early part of the season, but this will require strides as a team. The ‘Cats must improve their shooting percentage and rebounding if they hope to compete at a national level. In the matchup with North Carolina, the Tarheels won the rebounding battle, 55-27. It was ugly.

Furthermore, the struggles of being a mid-major team always include the fear that one bad loss could end a season. I mean, in the MAC, winning the conference is paramount to solidifying a spot in the NCAA Tournament. It doesn’t matter how talented this bunch is, they will have immense difficulties securing an at-large bid unless they beat both Memphis and Oklahoma, while losing to almost no one. It’s frustrating, but that’s the nature of the sport.

However, the potential for a letdown shouldn’t shield your excitement. Unlike college football, Ohio men’s basketball team is in contention for a National Championship. Every team in the nation is. That’s what makes basketball season so enjoyable.

The difference between the ‘Cats and most others in the NCAA, is that they have a very real shot to make a run. Ohio will have its chance at redemption. Mark it down.