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.

Five reasons why you should care about OU Athletics

Most people that go to Ohio University think that the athletics are no good and should not be cared about. Yeah, Ohio University is not going to be like Ohio State or Michigan. Those schools have special athletic programs.

Does that mean that Ohio University Athletics suck? Not one bit. In fact, Ohio University Athletics should be cared about and here are five reasons why.

1) A ton of the programs have had recent success

Wait, schools in smaller conferences can be successful too? You don’t have to be in the BIG Ten or SEC to be successful? That is correct.

I will make it very simple for you: Ohio University Athletics have been very successful recently. Since football is usually the most popular sport on a college campus, I’ll start there.

Ohio University Football has been bowl eligible for seven straight years and has played a bowl game in six out of those seven years. That is some pretty good stability. Only good programs can sustain that.

Ohio University Men’s Basketball has had some major national success recently. The Bobcats made the NCAA Tournament in 2010 and 2012. They advanced to the Round of 32 in 2010 and to the Sweet 16 in 2012. In 2012, they lost to number one seed University of North Carolina in overtime. Yeah, the school where Michael Jordan went. We almost beat them on the biggest stage. Not bad right?

4e84df57c85e0.image
Ohio University Men’s Basketball upsetting Georgetown in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 2010

Ohio University Baseball has made the NCAA Tournament 15 times including as recent as 2015. One of the best power hitters in baseball history in Mike Schmidt played baseball at Ohio University, too. He hit 548 home-runs in his career, which is good enough for 16th all-time.

The women have had some recent success as well. Ohio University Women’s Basketball made the NCAA Tournament in 2015 and won the MAC regular season title in 2016.

Last but not least, Ohio University Women’s Volleyball has been terrific. They have made the NCAA Tournament every year since 2003. In 2014, they were undefeated in MAC play.

2) MACtion is not that bad 

ben-roethlisberger
Former Miami of Ohio quarterback and current Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger

The average fan thinks that the Mid American Conference, also known as MACtion, is garbage. Th average fan thinks that MACtion consists of bad teams with average players that will never be able to compete against the big schools.

That is completely wrong.

MACtion has produced some tremendous pro talent. Some former MACtion players include Antonio Brown, Ben Roethlisberger, Julian Edelman, Khalil Mack, Jimmie Ward and Joe Staley. Ohio has two current NFL players in Pittsburgh Steelers safety Mike Mitchell and Oakland Raiders corner back TJ Carrie.

MACtion teams also have shown the ability to compete with the big schools. The University of Toledo beat the University of Arkansas last season. Arkansas plays in the SEC. That conference that MACtion teams “can’t” compete with.

3) A good MACtion team is better to have than a bad BIG Ten team 

Most people think that you have to be in a big conference like the BIG Ten to have a team that you should care about. However, that is not the case.

I have buddies that go to the University of Illinois, and their sports programs stink. Their football team has made it to just three bowl games since 2010. Their basketball team hasn’t made it to the Sweet 16 since 2005.

196khq8ums96rjpg
An University of Illinois student section during a 2013 football game vs Ohio State.

Do students at the University of Illinois care about these teams? NO because they suck.

Even though they get to play the really good schools like Ohio State and Michigan State, it does not matter. Most of the students do not care because they rarely win.

In fact, a few of my buddies from there have visited Ohio and were impressed by how many students seem to care about the sports teams. They thought it was pretty close and maybe better to what they see on their campus from students.

Also, they were jealous that our teams actually win a decent amount of games each year. Their not to happy with the four wins their football program gives them every year.

4) It can make your college experience better

The whole student body might not care about the sports programs, but there are plenty of students who do. The  student section at the games, called the O-Zone, is a very passionate group of students. 20020404-OZONE

The O-Zone is a great place to meet new people, too. Someone you meet in the O-Zone could end up being one of your closest friends in college.

Supporting the sports teams also gives you something to constantly do. You will quickly find out how much free time there is in college. It is nuts. I did not know what to do with all the free time. I still have trouble filling the time honestly.

You can only play so many hours of video games and watch so many hours of Netflix. Going to sporting events can spice up your day and make it much more fun and interesting .

5) Just give it a chance

Most of the games are free, so you cannot use the excuse that you don’t want to spend the money to get out of going to a game. There are usually tailgates that include free food for students. Yeah, free food. You will learn fast how crucial a free meal is. So, if you don’t like going to the game, you will get a free meal out of it anyhow. Win win situation no matter what.

See you at the first football game in the fall. Who cares, Go Bobcats.

peden2