Five reasons Bobcat fans should be excited for the 2016-17 mens basketball season

In its second season under head coach Saul Phillips (pictured above), the Ohio Bobcats made an encouraging 13-game improvement in the win column to finish the season with a 23-12 record before losing to Buffalo in the MAC Tournament semifinal. In the postseason College Basketball Invitational (CBI), the Bobcats fell to Moorhead State in the semifinals.

After losing just one senior (forward Treg Setty) to graduation while having several key starters returning, the 2016-17 Bobcats certainly figure to compete for the top spot in the MAC and appear to have a legitimate shot at reaching the NCAA Tournament for the first season since 2012. Here are five reasons incoming freshman and all Bobcat fans should be excited for the upcoming season of Ohio mens basketball.

1. The Convo is home to the best sporting event on campus

When the NCAA releases yearly attendance statistics for each conference, Ohio routinely leads the MAC in drawing the biggest crowds per game. Attendance numbers for last season haven’t been released yet, but in 2014 “The Best Fans in the MAC” led the conference with an average of 6,681 fans per-game, which ranked higher than nationally renowned programs such as Baylor, Texas Tech, Washington and Gonzaga. If you are coming to Ohio looking for an electric atmosphere to watch a live sporting event, joining the student section “O-Zone” at The Convo is defintiely your best bet. Check out this awesome video taken during Ohio’s 76-64 win over conference rival Miami (OH) for a glimpse of what it’s like to experience a game at The Convo.

 

2The (likely) return of MAC Player of the Year Antonio Campbell

Antonio Campbell was so good for the Bobcats last season that the forward decided to declare for the NBA draft. He didn’t hire an agent, meaning Campbell is eligible to withdraw his name from the draft by the May. 25th deadline and return to Athens fo

MAC POY Antonio Campbell goes up for a salm dunk
MAC POY Antonio Campbell goes up for a salm dunk

r his senior season. Conventional wisdom says Campbell will be back with the Bobcats, which is great news after he led the team in scoring (17.1 PPG) and rebounding (10.2 RPG) to earn Mid-American Conference Player of The Year honors as well as being named to the Associated Press honorable mention All-American section. He was the only MAC player included in the AP’s All-American team. In his senior season, Campbell figures to once again be among the most dominant players in the MAC and act as the centerpiece on offense for the Bobcats.

3. Point guard Jaaron Simmons is breaking records

After transferring last year from the University of Houston, Jaaron Simmons still has two years of eligibility left for the Bobcats which is among the biggest reasons why the team will be a force in the MAC for the next couple years. Simmons proved to be one of the best playmakers in the nation last season as his 7.8 assists per-game ranked third in all of college basketball. He finished the season with 264 assists, surpassing D.J. Cooper’s record for the most assists in a single season in Ohio program history. Cooper is thought to be one of the greatest players to ever play for Ohio, so it is exciting to think of what else Simmons will achieve in his next two years at Ohio.

4. Youth all around the roster

In Campbell and Simmons, I’ve already mentioned two of Ohio’s premier returning players, but in reality basically the entire team is returning from last season meaning expectations will be higher for this Bobcat squad than any in recent memory. Although players can still transfer before the start of next season, Treg Setty is the only Bobcat being lost to graduation. This current roster of youthful Bobcats are positioning themselves to not only be good next year but also many years to come, meaning incoming freshman will be able to watch Ohio’s current crop of players grow into upperclassmen during their time at OU.

Shooting guard Jordan Darts averaged 9.8 points for Ohio as a freshman
Shooting guard Jordan Darts averaged 9.8 points for Ohio as a freshman

Freshman Gavin Block and Jordan Dartis were key contributors for Ohio last season, while sharp shooter Kenny Kaminsky will be returning as a redshirt junior. In other good news, Ohio’s recent success and strong current nucleus of young talent should make it easier for coach Saul Phillips to draw more top recruits to Athens.

5. We have a really cool coach

Ohio coach Saul Phillips is a treat to be around. His press conferences are always a spectacle because Phillips has a great sense of humor that is noticeable the second you meet him. The third-year coach seemingly genuinely enjoys being apart of the Athens community and is committed to building Ohio into a perennial NCAA Tournament contender. Before signing a five-year contract with Ohio, Phillips was the head coach at North Dakotah State University from 2007-2014 and led the Bisons to two NCAA Tournament appearances. Phillips’ passion and enthusiasm is contagious and the Bobcats are in great hands for as long as he is at the helm.

Addressing racial inequality in America with journalist Darrell Dawsey

Few discussion topics can be as interesting to me as much as an open discussion on racial challenges in present-day America, so Thursday night’s conversation with African-American journalist Darrell Dawsey was a treat to attend.

Baker Ballroom was packed with students and faculty members who came to listen to Dawsey, who has authored three books, including Living To Tell About It: Young Black Men in America Speak Their Piece and has worked for major newspapers such as the Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and Detroit News.

Mark Brown, a junior at Ohio University and member of the school’s NAACP chapter narrated the discussion, which tackled polarizing topics such as homicide among African-Americans, white privilege, Affirmative Action hypocrisy, and the parallels connecting racial inequality and gender inequality.

“This is not a Black Community problem. This is an American problem,” Dawsey said regarding high rates of homicide among African Americans. Dawsey, who grew up with an absent Father, additionally stressed the importance of African-American men needing to serve as father-figures in their community.

Since I entered college, I have become increasingly conscious of white privilege. I feel ashamed of being so unaware of it while growing up. Dawsey said that white privilege is often times not something white people have, but what they don’t have. For example, Dawsey mentions how White people don’t have to worry about their names removing them from job consideration.

Dawsey sign
Sign outside Baker Ballroom promoting the Black History Month speaker event featuring journalist Darrel Dawsey

“White privilege is the social phenomenon that allows somebody like Donald Trump to be taken seriously,” Dawsey said. “You can’t have a Black man stand up their saying that nonsense and be taken seriously. Ben Carson tried but it didn’t work out (laughs). Black people are not given the privilege to spit out nonsense and be taken as gospel.”

Dawsey linked white privilege to the similar issues that plaque women in this country but not men. As an African American male, Dawsey recognized the institutionalized racism he encounters but also knows he enjoys certain privileges as a male that women don’t experience.

“I don’t have to think twice about walking down a dark alley. I don’t have to think twice about getting in an elevator by myself,” Dawsey said. “I can walk down the street without having to worry about getting catcalled. These are privileges that we enjoy as men that we don’t even think about but women [of all races] deal with everyday. There are things that as African Americans we have to think about everyday that White people don’t think about at all.”

Another riveting topic raised was the hypocrisy of Affirmative Action. I support the need of Affirmative Action and was caught off guard recently by the number of white students who were against Affirmative Action laws when the discussion came up in one of my classes last week.

Opponents of Affirmative Actions frequently argue that students who don’t work as hard or have lower grades shouldn’t be compensated because of their status as a minority. What I learned from Dawsey, is the contradictory logic that has been used by White people governing the California State University system. When the University’s felt too many Asian-Americans were being accepted due to their academic excellence, they enacted a policy to limit the number of Asians who could be represented in the class.

[White people] say its about merit. ‘They don’t have what it takes’, ‘this is an institution of higher learning and you have to be qualified,'” Dawsey said. “Well that logic works well until you start looking at the California State University system, which at one point was flushed with Asians and Asian Americans because they had the highest GPAs. Then they put a cap on the number of Asian Americans who were accepted into the California State University system because the white folks were getting knocked out of school. So it wasn’t just about Academic Merit. If it was just about academic merit, the California State education system would be 85 percent Asian, but its not.”

Hearing the facts put forth by Dawsey really made me sink into my chair and marvel in sadness about the racial injustices plaguing America, and the hypocrisy perpetrated by the White majority. It’s not fair, but with discussions such as this one led by Darrell Dawsey Thursday night in Baker, I know society can only benefit from these conversations and make progress toward eliminating the privilege gap between White males and everyone else in America.

Learning to speak up while growing up with four siblings

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This is Katie, a junior majoring in nutrition at Ohio University. She was studying for her medical-terminology exam when we chatted Monday night in the library. I found her to be pleasantly outgoing throughout our conversation, so I asked her where she thinks that quality might come from. “My mom is definitely more outgoing than my dad,” Katie said with a smile. “My mom has always been very open. And I grew up with four siblings, so I’m just used to speaking my mind and having to speak up if I want to be heard, because there’s a lot of them.”

Far away from the Real World on Court Street

It’s the namesake of this website as well as my favorite place in Athens. Maybe I am using the term “place” a bit generously here since I am referring to an entire street, but there is no doubt in my mind I will miss the atmosphere of Court Street upon graduation more so than any of the individual restaurants or bars inhabiting the beautifully bricked road – or anywhere else in Athens.

The scene on Court Street is always a spectacle. It can be enjoyed quietly during the day and makes for an awesome walk in the sun when the weather is warmer. However, the magic of Court Street comes out at night, when everyone is sharing a good time with their friends. The smiles, laughter, and memories made with friends on Court Street will be what draws me back to visit as an alumnus.

Photo of Court Street
A view of Court Street taken from an apartment balcony above Subway

They say that you don’t enter the “real world” until after you leave college and join the work force. I can’t think of anything further removed from the worries of the real world than an average night spent on Court Street. It’s perfectly tailored to college students and the biggest reason why Athens is regularly ranked among America’s best college towns. Most college students have little money, so it’s awesome how ridiculously cheap the drinks are at Athens’ bars. Drink specials for 50 cents, a dollar, etc are all sorely missed when I return home for break to my suburban NYC town.

Convenience and accessibility serve as a big reason of why I love Court Street. It’s within close walking distance of the majority of campus – strongly eliminating the possibility of drunk drivers (not entirely, however). No matter how late at night it is, I’ve never felt unsafe or threatened while on Court Street which I think speaks to the positive community that has been built by Bobcats.

I’ll be living in an apartment on Court Street next year, which is also the year I expect to graduate. I can’t think of anywhere else in Athens I would rather spend the majority of my time in my final semester than happily on Court Street, well outside the impending realm of the real world.