Ohio redshirt senior guard Taylor Agler (#0) looks to drive to the basket against Notre Dame College in the second half of the Bobcats’ 93-37 win on November 16. (CARL FONTICELLA | FILE)
Ohio is frustrated with how it has played to begin conference play, and that is understandable.
Since the 2014-15 season, coach Bob Boldon has led the Bobcats to three straight 20-plus win seasons. Boldon has created a culture that breeds consistency and winning.
Boldon and the Bobcats (9-8, 3-3 Mid-American Conference) are six conference games in, and out of those six, they have played elite teams in Central Michigan and Buffalo, along with playing Toledo twice. On top of that, they have played two solid teams in Western Michigan and Akron.
Still, playing in the MAC has its benefits. Its schedule of Wednesday and Saturday games gives teams quick turnarounds. Ohio is coming off a against Buffalo, but it plays Bowling Green on the road Saturday at 1 p.m.
After Ohio lost to Buffalo, its frustrations of not shooting well continued. The Bobcats shot 3-of-20 from 3-point range, the fewest number of 3s they have made all season.
But as Amani Burke fielded questions after the game, she spoke of how the Bobcats must continue to improve on shooting and other facets of their game.
“We just know that tomorrow’s practice, and every practice we move forward, we just know what we have to do,” Burke said. “We’re not going to pout about it and just be down.”
The Bobcats know they have struggled to shoot well all season. But as they prepare for the Falcons, it is still only one facet of their performance.
While this area has needed significant improvement it is not the only area that the Bobcats can work on. Though they are one of the best defensive teams in the MAC, forcing an average of 24.4 turnovers a game, the Bobcats did not play well defensively for the whole game against Buffalo.
During the second half, Boldon said that the Bobcats’ defensive positioning was not as good as it had been. While forcing 16 turnovers in the first half, the Bobcats only forced nine in the second half.
“Most teams play better defense in the first half because you’re right in front of your coaches, and they’re yelling at you for most of the half,” Boldon said.
Boldon also said the same is true for offense, but it happens during the second half. He cited how teams play better on that end because coaches are yelling at them for most of the half.
Going up against Bowling Green on the road will be tough. Like the Bobcats, the Falcons have played two of the conference’s elite: Central Michigan and Ball State. The only conference wins the Falcons (10-7, 2-4 MAC) have are against Akron and Kent State.
The Falcons, or any team in the MAC for that matter, are not a team to be overlooked. They only lost by 11 points to Ball State, one of the best team in the conferences. They do not shoot significantly better than the Bobcats, but the rebound battle will be another tough one. The Falcons average 37.4 rebounds per game, and the Bobcats average 32.5.
The Bobcats only lost the rebound battle 42-40 against the Bulls, and at times, they were leading in the category. Despite being last in the MAC for rebounds per game, the Bobcats have averaged 34.8 rebounds per game during conference play so far.
But for the Bobcats to win more games in the MAC, they are going to have to shoot better. They can compete for rebounds, and they are one of the best defensive teams in the conference.
And they do not have bad shooters, either. Boldon knows that.
“I’m usually not a real rah-rah type person, but I’m optimistic that we’re going to get this figured out,” Boldon said. “Because these kids want to get it figured out.”