Women’s Basketball: Ohio sets new steals record in 93-37 win over Notre Dame College

Women's Basketball: Ohio sets new steals record in 93-37 win over Notre Dame College

 

Ohio redshirt senior guard Taylor Agler (#0) drives past a Notre Dame College defender in the second half of the Bobcats’ 93-37 win on Nov. 16.

 

The game had been all but over. But Ohio still had a record to break.

With five minutes left in Thursday’s game against Notre Dame, freshman forward Alexis Stover stole the ball and made a layup. She got the Bobcats’ 24th steal. The record was broken.

Ohio defeated Notre Dame College 93-37 in The Convo after its defense tallied 25 steals, which broke the program record for most steals in a game. The previous record was set at home in 2005 against Western Michigan, when Ohio totaled 23 steals.

Coach Bob Boldon had the Bobcats playing the Falcons tight on the perimeter, forcing the Falcons to commit 37 turnovers.

“We’ve been working on playing up the line a little bit more, being more aggressive in the passing lanes,” Boldon said. “And I think it showed.”

Ohio denied passing lanes, and when Notre Dame decided to take a risk, the Bobcats usually stole the ball. Despite not having a bonafide rim protector to help inside, the Bobcats have shown early in the season why they can be a quality defensive team.

Before the season started, Boldon had improving defense a priority for the team. He knew the Bobcats’ offensive production would improve eventually.

Well, it has as this season begins.

Tight defense helped the Bobcats score easy points; they scored 39 points off turnovers. The offense flowed like a stream does through a forest as the Bobcats moved around the floor, looking for the best shot they could get.

“Once our defense clicks, our offense clicks,” junior forward Kendall Jessing said. “We really focus on working on that end, whether it’s steals, rebounds, high-ball pressure.”

After shooting 35.3 percent from the field against High Point, Ohio’s shooting numbers improved, just as Boldon thought they would. The Bobcats still didn’t shoot particularly well – they shot 43.2 percent from the field against the Falcons.

But they did shoot better, and that’s a bright spot even at the start of the season.

“Our secondary screening action’s gotta improve, but it’s a good start,” Boldon said. “We’re screening decently, we’re moving the ball decently. I think there’s better times ahead of us.”

Perhaps part of the Bobcats’ early success on offense is because of the team’s depth. The starting lineup of Jessing, Taylor Agler, Katie Barker, Amani Burke and Dominique Doseck has been a quality springboard for Ohio.

But when the starters come off, the bench plays nearly just as well.

In two games, Ohio has averaged 34.5 bench points. Freshman Cierra Hooks and Gabby Burris have played quality minutes thus far.

“I try working really hard in practice,” Hooks said. “And when I get my opportunity on the floor, I just play and try not to mess up.”

So far, Hooks hasn’t made any significant errors. She’s one of the best perimeter defenders on the team, and her quickness allows her to beat defenders to the basket. Burris has played well in transition, and she scores inside well, too.

It’s only the second game of the season, but as the Bobcats continue non-conference play and with tougher games ahead, Jessing knows the Bobcats need to stay focused.

“We can start to get nitpicky now,” Jessing said. “Recognizing maybe we’re two steps in the wrong spot, so we just gotta really focus in on the little things that we’re not doing so well on.”

 

 

 

Advertisements

Women’s Basketball: Ohio looks to increase tempo, run fast break this season

Women's Basketball: Ohio looks to increase tempo, run fast break this season

 

Amani Burke (3) drives to the basket against Kent State in the Convocation Center Saturday. (MATT STARKEY | FILE)

 

Ohio wants to run the fast break well this season, and that’s because it has the personnel to do so.

While the Bobcats had 6-foot-2-inch tall forwards Jasmine Weatherspoon and Kelly Karlis last season, both are gone this season — Weatherspoon graduated, and Karlis transferred to Wisconsin.

Now, one of the team’s tallest players is Olivia Bower, a 6-foot-1-inch junior forward.

The Bobcats will miss Weatherspoon’s and Karlis’ size, but, in losing that size, they have gained an ability to run the break well.

“I think it’s an option that we haven’t necessarily focused on in the past,” junior forward Kendall Jessing said.

Ohio didn’t run the break much last season. With bigger players, the Bobcats needed to play slightly slower because they weren’t suited to do otherwise. This caused the Bobcats to focus more on having good ball movement in the half court, which was beneficial.

The Bobcats have multi-dimensional players — forwards and bigs need to be able to shoot and drive in their offense. That versatility allowed them to spread the floor and find quality shots.

Having good ball movement in half-court play will still be essential, but playing faster will be, too. If the Bobcats can successfully do both, their lack of size won’t be as big an issue.

“I think we do a good job at our initial 15 seconds trying to score as fast as we can,” Jessing said.

Jessing said now the Bobcats have a better knowledge as to when to push the fast break, as well as how to do it.

The fast break is supposed to be the epitome of organized chaos. As players fly down the floor looking for a quick bucket, they’re also supposed to be scanning the floor for teammates to pass to. If the break fails, players also must know when to suddenly stop and let the half-court offense develop.

Junior guard Dominique Doseck said the coaching staff wants the team to rebound the ball and immediately speed down the floor. Though Ohio has the roster to play fast — most of the team is made up of guards — an adjustment period will be necessary.

“We’re used to playing faster, but we’re not used to playing as fast as we can go,” Doseck said.

Most of the time, the Bobcats will look for their point guard, or whoever can handle the ball, to lead the break. But Ohio’s versatility will be advantageous on the break. With most players on the team able to handle the ball, that allows the break to be more fluid.

The Bobcats won’t necessarily have to make sure Doseck or redshirt senior guard Taylor Agler, the team’s point guards, have the ball to begin the break.

“We can all run the floor, and that’s good because our post players will be able to out run other bigger post players,” Agler said.

With players like Jessing who can run the floor as a forward, the Bobcats have the potential to be the one of the most up-tempo teams in the Mid-American Conference.

But even if the Bobcats don’t always have the break at their disposal, they have a half-court offense that is rooted in versatility, too.

“You’re not used to a (center) being able to shoot the ball,” Jessing said. “You’re not used to a (small forward) being able to post up. So, with that in mind, it really gives us hopefully the competitive advantage in all of our games.”

 

Women’s Basketball: Ohio pushes through for 64-61 win over High Point with four first-time starters

Women's Basketball: Ohio pushes through for 64-61 win over High Point with four first-time starters

 

Ohio guard Amani Burke (#3) tries to get into position to grab a rebound during a free throw in the Bobcats’ 79-68 win over Bowling Green on March 1. (FILE)

 

Amani Burke sat at the table, the black microphone resting on the green tablecloth. Dominique Doseck sat next to her. Both were still in their white uniforms.

Burke and Doseck, both guards for Ohio, had just finished making their first college start, along with junior forward Kendall Jessing and redshirt sophomore guard Katie Barker. Redshirt senior guard Taylor Agler was the only player in the lineup who started last season for the Bobcats.

Still, in a game where Ohio had four first-time starters, it found a path toward victory. Ohio defeated High Point 64-61 in its season openerSunday at The Convo.

For Burke and Doseck, starting was different. They were used to watching the game from the bench and knowing what to do upon entering the game.

Despite the adjustment, though, Burke and Doseck weren’t uncomfortable.

“This is actually the team that I practiced with last year in practice,” Burke said. “And we played in the game together at different times too.”

As Burke, Doseck, Jessing and Barker made their first starts, shooting woes ensued for Ohio. The Bobcats missed their first five shots, and they finished the game shooting 35.3 percent from the field.

Part of the Bobcats’ shooting struggles stemmed from the Panthers’ defense. The Panthers played a zone in which they didn’t allow the Bobcats to drive the rim easily.

Burke said that the Bobcats ran a play called “40,” which didn’t work well against the Panthers’ zone.

“It seems like a lot of us are stationary, and it’s only like one person moving, and that’s the person with the ball,” Burke said.

Burke also said the Panthers played good defense, but she also was confident about the Bobcats breaking down offenses in the future.

Going off Ohio’s offensive struggles, coach Bob Boldon didn’t expect his team to shoot this poorly to start. With the starting lineup, the floor was supposed to be spaced well. The entire starting lineup was supposed to be able to shoot.

Boldon said he doesn’t believe the poor shooting will persist — eventually the Bobcats will start to shoot well.

The Bobcats’ woes on the offensive end were perhaps offset by their defense. The Bobcats forced the Panthers to commit 30 turnovers, and they scored 25 points off those turnovers.

“I thought defensively we did a nice job,” Boldon said. “Minus the first couple of possessions of the first half and then like the first six or seven possessions of the third quarter was a trainwreck.”

The Bobcats led 59-49, their largest lead of the game, with 6:27 left in the game. The Panthers weren’t done yet, though.

The Panthers hit a 3-pointer with 20 seconds left to cut the lead to 64-61, but they missed a potential game-tying three on the last possession.

Even with their four new starters, the Bobcats held on. Ohio is a young team, but in its first game of the season, it proved that it’s not afraid of pressure.

“I learned that when we are challenged with adversity, we will come together as a group,” Doseck said.

 

Women’s basketball: Five freshmen start, gain experience in exhibition loss to Walsh

Women's basketball: Five freshmen start, gain experience in exhibition loss to Walsh

 

Ohio’s Taylor Agler drives to the basket during the Bobcats’ game against University of Tennessee-Martin in The Convo on Nov. 18th, 2016. (FILE)

 

Coach Bob Boldon started five freshmen and, up until the end of the third quarter, Ohio’s young players played fine.

Walsh went on a 7-0 run to end the third quarter, though, and Ohio didn’t score for the last 3:02 of the quarter. The Cavaliers scored seven straight points to begin the fourth, and the Bobcats soon fell out of the game, eventually losing 82-66 in an exhibition game Saturday in The Convo.

Boldon wanted to evaluate the freshmen for a full game; he wanted to see what they could do. He has an inexperienced team, with guard Taylor Agler being the lone senior. Cierra Hooks, Erica Johnson, Gabby Burris, Kaylee Bambule and Alexis Stover all stood on the floor when the lights came on after the starting lineups.

“You’re trying to see how kids react in game situations and put them in some tough circumstances and see them fight their way through it,” Boldon said.

Some of those circumstances consisted of Bambule and Burris fouling out. Stover, Johnson and Hooks each had four fouls. Boldon wanted his young players to gain experience and see the nuances of the college game, whether it was learning not to commit hand checks or going through media timeouts.

Though the freshmen learned in this exhibition game, Boldon said they did have some good moments. Stover led the team with 17 points, and Burris followed her with 15.

The good moments aside, Boldon knows a long season is ahead. This game against Walsh doesn’t count, but Boldon realizes that he’ll need to be patient. Losses will happen. Ohio starts the regular season at home Nov. 12 against High Point.

“I’m envisioning some pretty sad postgame press conferences over the next couple months,” Boldon said. “But we gotta learn.”

As the freshmen stood on the floor when the lights came on after the starting lineups, Agler, Amani Burke and Dominique Doseck, the team’s veterans, sat on the bench in warmups. They didn’t play, but that’s because Boldon knows what they can do.

Aside from the freshmen, Boldon also had junior forwards Olivia Bower and Kendall Jessing come off the bench to play.

Players such as Agler, Burke and Doseck have experience, so Boldon needed to give some of his inexperienced players a chance to gain their first taste of college basketball.

“They did a lot of nice things,” Boldon said. “They just didn’t do enough nice things. And that’s why we did this — so that they could get a lot of minutes and not get taken out for their first mistake. They got to make several mistakes.”

Women’s basketball: Amani Burke is ready to lead after graduation of Quiera Lampkins

Women's basketball: Amani Burke is ready to lead after graduation of Quiera Lampkins

 

Amani Burke (3) drives to the basket against Kent State in the Convocation Center on January 14, 2017. (Matt Starkey | File)

 

When Amani Burke scored a career-high 21 points against Miami last season, former player Quiera Lampkins wanted to emphasize that she and Burke were different players.

“I don’t have a mini me,” Lampkins said with a laugh. “Burke is Burke and I’m Kiki. You know, she’s a great player.”

As Burke went through her freshman season, one in which she averaged 7.3 points per game, murmurs of her being Lampkins’ second act were frequent. Both players are skilled at driving to the hoop and finishing at the rim, so that was the primary reason for the comparison.

Burke doesn’t want to compare herself to Lampkins, though. And she shouldn’t, what with the resume she has. Last season, Burke earned a spot on the Mid-American Conference All-Freshman team.

A better shooter and facilitator than Lampkins, Burke was slated to be Ohio’s future, the team’s top player going forward.

Well, the future has arrived.

A sophomore this season, Burke will be expected to lead. But after coming off an impressive freshman year, she is still learning.

“I kind of am being put in this captain, leadership role and it’s kind of not being introduced to me,” Burke said. “It’s kind of just like, ‘You’re in it.’”

Burke came off the bench last season, but played 17.9 minutes per game. Despite former player Hannah Boesinger having 12 starts last season, Burke had the most minutes of any player who wasn’t a consistent starter.

This season, though, she’ll be starting every game.

“She’s going to have more focus on her I think this year,” junior guard Dominique Doseck said. “She’s just going to have to learn. I think she can handle it, though.”

With Lampkins in front of her last season, teams didn’t focus on Burke as much. She had the luxury of playing behind Lampkins, the No. 2 scorer in program history.

Now, though, she’s going to be what opponents hone in on during film sessions. Doseck doesn’t know if teams will try to double team Burke. Perhaps they will early, but then they’ll realize something.

Burke is too good of a passer.

“Regardless if you throw a double team at her, you’re not going to win,” Doseck said. “She’s going to find the open person, and we’re still going to score.”

Though Burke’s learning how to lead every day, she’s not doing so alone. Doseck and redshirt senior guard Taylor Agler have helped her. They know Burke will have the ball a lot, so they’ve tried to keep her calm.

Burke said that she’s sometimes too critical of herself. So, when she needs to hear that she’s doing OK, she knows Doseck and Agler will be there for her.

“They’re definitely helpful as teammates, but more like friends, too,” Burke said.

Burke is a leader, but she’s not the only one on the team. Agler is the only senior on the team, and she said she’s learning how to lead, too.

“As much as I want to say that I give her this amazing wisdom, I think we both help each other and just try to pick each other up,” Agler said.

Burke won’t have to carry a program that lost five seniors after last season. She’s going to have help.

When Burke came in as a freshman, the Bobcats knew she’d be good – and she was.

Now, though, she’s taking on a larger role, one that holds more responsibility.

When Burke went into assistant coach Mary Evans’ office before the new season, she talked with Evans about taking on the leadership role. Evans told Burke that becoming a leader was her choice. Burke knew it was going to be hard, but she was confident.

She was ready to lead.

“I know it’s not going to be easy every day, but so far it’s been fun,” Burke said.

 

Women’s Basketball: Ohio is motivated to prove youth will not be a hindrance

 

Women's Basketball: Ohio is motivated to prove youth will not be a hindrance

 

Yamonie Jenkins makes a break for the basket in Ohio’s game against Western Michigan University on January 25, 2016. (Photo by Blake Nissen | File)

 

The class of 2017 – Quiera Lampkins, Jasmine Weatherspoon, Hannah Boesinger, Yamonie Jenkins and Tmisht Stinson – is gone.

That class was one of the most decorated in program history. Now, though, it’s time to start anew. Taylor Agler is the lone senior on the team, and seven returners join her.

Still, the Bobcats are motivated. Because Agler and the Bobcats are not pleased with how last season ended.

“Obviously last year was a failure for us,” Agler said.

Ohio was picked to finish third in the Mid-American Conference East division for this season’s preseason poll. The Bobcats will host Walsh in an exhibition game Nov. 4 to begin the season.

“One of the things we identified was that we need to have better team chemistry, not even just on the floor, but off the floor,” Agler said.

The Bobcats worked on team-bonding over the summer, and junior guard Dominique Doseck said the team recently carved pumpkins and went to a haunted house.

They are developing more team chemistry off the floor, which will help the youthful roster succeed. Five freshmen comprise the Bobcats’ class of 2021, and Meche’la Cobb, a redshirt freshman, is about to play her first season.

It’s a new team, even for the experienced players such as Agler and Doseck.

“It’s a lot of working in practice, and seeing who flows well where,” Doseck said. “And just learning how to read each other. It’s a lot of development in that aspect.”

Understanding where teammates are supposed to be on plays, or even where they like to catch the ball, is a process. But it’s a process that Ohio will have to go through.

“The more we work together, the more we’re going to develop that bond,” Doseck said.

Ohio ended last season with two straight losses, the first against Northern Illinois in the MAC Tournament, and the second against Penn State in the WNIT.

But last season is in the past, and guard Amani Burke isn’t trying to dwell on it. Lampkins, who led the team last season, is gone.

Burke, who’s only a sophomore, has been given leadership responsibilities and Agler has helped, too. Burke doesn’t have freshmen shadow her like a senior usually does.

But she said that the freshmen still listen to what she says.

“I’m like a teacher, but I’m also learning,” Burke said.

For a program that struggled before Bob Boldonbegan coaching in 2013 – even in his first season the Bobcats had nine wins – the Bobcats are aware of their status in the MAC. They won the conference tournament in 2015, and since then teams in the conference haven’t kneeled in reverence before them.

The Bobcats had 22 wins last season. For a program on the upswing, that would be an improvement. But the year before, in the 2015-16 season, they had 26. And the season before that, when the Bobcats won the MAC Tournament and made the NCAA Tournament, they had 27, the most wins in a season in program history.

The most decorated class in program history is gone. But the Bobcats’ winning culture isn’t.

“It will definitely be some ups and downs this year just because we’re so young,” Burke said. “But I really think that we don’t have a bad team this year.”

 

Women’s Basketball: Former Ohio forward Kelly Karlis to transfer to Wisconsin

Women's Basketball: Former Ohio forward Kelly Karlis to transfer to Wisconsin

 

Kelly Karlis attempts a layup against UT Martin in The Convo on Nov. 18. (FILE)

 

Ohio was destined to look different next season.

Now, Ohio is going to look even more different than before.

After losing six seniors to graduation this past season, the Bobcats lost another player Monday — only this time to transfer.

Former Ohio forward Kelly Karlis will transfer to play for the University of Wisconsin next season. Because of NCAA transfer rules, Karlis, a redshirt junior, will have to sit out next season. She will be eligible to play during the 2018-19 season and is appealing to the NCAA for an extra year of eligibility.

Karlis was a player for the Bobcats who never quite fit in during her time at Ohio. A stretch player assigned to space the floor and shoot threes, Karlis would sometimes succeed. She shot 35.2 percent from the 3-point line last season, ranking No. 2 on the team in 3-point shooting behind Katie Barker.

But if Karlis wasn’t hitting threes, or even if she just simply wasn’t involved in the offense, she wasn’t as effective as she could’ve been.

With her skillset, though, she has the capability to succeed. The Badgers, part of a tough Big 10 conference, went 9-22 overall last season. Adding Karlis likely won’t change the team completely, but she could certainly help.