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.

7 Reason’s Why OU Athletics Will Not Be What You Are Expecting

Rufus fighingBrutus
Rufus fighting Brutus

Whether you’re signing on the dotted line of your Letter of Intent, or, as it is less glamorously referred to, if you are a “normal” student, not a student-athlete; submitting your nonrefundable deposit reserving your spot in the year’s freshmen class. It means the same thing either way. It means that you are committing to be a member of Ohio University and #BobcatNation for the next four….or five…or even six years as a student, and as an alumnus every year thereafter. Before doing so, there are a few things you should know. Most importantly, you should know that we are Bobcats, not Buckeyes. No matter how many times you say, “I go to Ohio University in Athens,” your family and friends will inevitably believe that what you are saying is that, “I go to Ohio State in Columbus.” This is a common misconception that sadly every Bobcat can relate to. Although both are public institutions just over 70 miles apart, a drive of less than two hours, the schools could not be more different in terms of culture, specifically sports culture. Case and point, Ohio University has strong athletic programs, but if you are looking for a Division I school where the entire student body spends the weekends at the athletic fields singing our fight song, “Stand Up And Cheer,” regrettably that is not something you will find at Ohio University. If a “sports school” is what you desire, Ohio University is not the school for you. Here’s 7 reasons why:

1  The marching band (The Marching 110) is more popular than the sports teams.

 

If you journey to Peden Stadium to watch Ohio football, you will probably see a fairly hardy crowd around 20,000 strong. Unfortunately though, that crowd that was once 20,000 strong will likely dwindle to a crowd of less than 10,000 after the Marching 110 has completed their halftime performance no matter how close the game may be. The reality is, sad as it may be; people come to see the famous Marching 110, not the football team, a tradition that has been in place for decades.

Free Shirt Friday Giveaway
Free Shirt Friday Giveaway

2  Free merchandise and free food giveaways can dictate student support of athletics.

Just as fans tend to only come out to sporting events to watch the band, fans, students in particular have a tendency to venture to Penden, the Convo and Bob Wren only with hopes of getting free gear or free food. After the giveaways, crowds usually shrink.

3  Students would rather buy beer than a hockey ticket.

2015-16 Ohio Men's Hockey Team
2015-16 Ohio Men’s Hockey Team

For all varsity sports student admission is free with a student ID. Club sports on the other hand require a $5 student fee because they are club sports and thus not university sponsored. Ohio hockey is a powerhouse program with four ACHA Men’s Division 1 National Championships over the last 20 seasons. When you have more than 25 home contests a season at $5 a person, it doesn’t matter how good the squad is, students are not willing to spend upwards of $125 to go to every hockey game when that same $125 can be used to cover weeks’ worth of bar tabs. Students would rather spend money on beer than sports tickets, plain and simple, it gives them more “bang for their buck.”

4  You need sports jerseys……but for parties, not sporting events on campus.


At Ohio University, the highlight of spring semester for most students is fest season. The coming of fest season means that for about a month, from mid-March- mid-April, there will be various street fests each weekend around town. At these fests you can expect two things. 1) Drunken debauchery and 2) A plethora of sports jerseys. The irony rests in the fact that all OU students act like huge sports fans when it is fest season, yet they won’t support the Bobcats at sporting events on campus.

5  Student-athletes are relatively unknown on campus.


At bigger Division 1 schools high profile student-athletes like a Johnny Manziel or a Cam Newton find themselves on Sports Center on a weekly basis and carry the status of a celebrity on their college campus. Other students routinely ask these future professional athletes for pictures and autographs alike. At Ohio, we don’t have that problem.  Our student-athletes are not fawned over by the rest of the student body. In fact some of Ohio’s best athletes go unnoticed as they walk up and down Court Street. Even 6’10, 260-pound forward Antonio Campbell, who was recently voted MAC Player-of-the Year, went unnoted by my two roommates as we passed him on the street walking to class earlier in the semester. How two self-proclaimed and knowledgeable sports fans did not recognize a 6’10 basketball star complete with a signature mustache as he passed them on the street, I do not know, but at Ohio, where sports aren’t a big deal…..it happens.

6  At Ohio, you are at the mercy of #MACtion.


Being an avid fan of the Mid-American Conference means two things. 1) Be prepared for the unpredictable. Where the best team in the MAC can either kill or be killed by the worst team in the MAC any given week in any sport. 2) Be prepared for inconvenient game times. As a member of the MAC teams are forced to play at times that are less than great for fans and athletes alike. MAC schedules are riddled with mid-week night games late in the season when the temperatures are blustery, balmy and bitter cold. Why? Because that is the only time ESPN will put a mid-major school like Ohio on national television. What can be done about this? Absolutely nothing. What is typically done though is that students do not attend the games. For some the weather scares them away, for others it is class and homework that prevents them from attending the event. Any way you look at it, #MACtion, as great as it can be hurts the Ohio athletics culture.

7  PLAYOFFS?!?!…….Mostly just a pipe dream for a MAC school.


Ohio athletics is fairly strong across the board it has seen success in all major sports fairly recently, it has seen professional athletes come through its programs as well. Despite all of the recent success’s the Bobcats have had on the athletic fields there is one thing that we must keep in mind. That is, we are a mid-major MAC school. This means that although we may have success, although we may make it to the post-season, we will never have certain athletic experiences like a “sports school” like Ohio State will have. An appearance in an historic game such as the College Football Playoff, the Men’s Basketball Final Four, the Men’s Hockey Frozen Four, among others just isn’t feasible for a smaller school like Ohio. For this reason, athletics aren’t as crazed here. Deep down, all Bobcats know, whether we want to admit it or not, we seldom if ever have the opportunity to play in the biggest game on the biggest stage.