Women’s Basketball: Ohio looks to show improvement on offense against Purdue

Women's Basketball: Ohio looks to show improvement on offense against Purdue

 

Ohio sophomore guard Amani Burke (#3) drives to the basket during the first half of the Bobcats’ 93-37 win over Notre Dame College on Nov. 16.

 

In its past four games, Ohio has played four formidable opponents: a top 25 team in Michigan, an underrated Eastern Kentucky squad and two quality Horizon League opponents in IUPUI and Cleveland State.

Ohio only beat Eastern Kentucky out of the group. Coach Bob Boldon suggested the Bobcats perhaps didn’t take the Colonels seriously enough until the second half, when they outscored them 37-24.

Now, Purdue is next.

It’s the Bobcats’ second Big Ten game of the season, and it’s another opportunity for growth. The Bobcats will play the Boilermakers on the road Sunday at 2 p.m. in Mackey Arena.

“You don’t always just want to play people that you know you’re going to win,” Boldon said. “You want to try to challenge yourself and your program and your teammates.”

Purdue went to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season, losing to No. 1 seeded Notre Dame 88-82 in overtime.

The Bobcats have encountered challenges to start this season, most notably their low shooting numbers and mediocre offense. Ohio is shooting 34.8 percent from the field and 23.0 percent from three.

Still, the challenges the Bobcats have faced, and the challenges that are ahead, are only going to help them as Mid-American Conference play nears.

“It’s going to be a test going to Purdue and being in that environment, that atmosphere,” sophomore Amani Burke said. “I think we just have to take it step by step and just enjoy the process and know that it’s a journey.”

Playing a perfect game doesn’t exist. But when the Bobcats played the Wolverines in November, they showed why they aren’t a team to be ignored. The game was close until the fourth quarter; the Bobcats were only down by three at the end of each quarter until the fourth.

The Wolverines’ top 25 status didn’t fetter the Bobcats – they were at home. Also, they boasted one of the MAC’s best defenses. Ohio has the top turnover margin in the country, and it forced Michigan to commit 23 turnovers.

That tied a season-high in turnovers for Michigan, with Louisville being the only other team to make it commit as many turnovers.

The Bobcats’ offense hasn’t played well to begin this season, but the defense has. And the Bobcats have won games because of that.

“(The defense has) kind of slipped a little bit in the last week of half, so we’ll try to get that back on track,” Boldon said. “But as I mentioned before, you get what you practice.”

Recently, the Bobcats have had to focus more on offensive improvement, and the defense has taken a slight dip because of that. Ohio is still a quality defensive team; that side of the ball is stronger than the offensive side.

But as Ohio prepares for Purdue and beyond, improvement — on both sides of the ball — will be paramount for its success.

 

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Women’s Basketball: Ohio’s shooting numbers will eventually go up despite slow start

Women's Basketball: Ohio's shooting numbers will eventually go up despite slow start

 

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 Nov. 16. (FILE)

 

Ohio doesn’t have a big sample size right now in terms of games played.

The Bobcats have only played six games this season, and they don’t start Mid-American Conference play until Dec. 31; Ohio will play against Toledo, the reigning MAC champions.

Five games are left in non-conference play, so the Bobcats still have some time to figure out whether they’re a capable shooting team.

But by the time conference play arrives, the sample size will be big enough; the Bobcats will have played 11 games. By then, the Bobcats should know whether they’ll be one of the better shooting teams in the MAC. They’re shooting 36 percent from the field and 23.9 percent from the 3-point line right now.

Ohio lost 76-52 to IUPUI on Saturday in The Convo, dropping its second game of the season. The Bobcats shot 36.5 percent from the field and 17.9 percent from 3-point range.

“We got a couple kids who haven’t made a shot in a long time that I think are good shooters,” coach Bob Boldon said after that game. “And they were good shooters for us in the past.”

Redshirt sophomore Hannah Thome sports the best 3-point shooting percentage on the team (50.0). Thome has shot four threes all season, though, and all four came against Michigan.

Aside from Thome, Dominique Doseck and Taylor Agler are the only other two players shooting above 30 percent from behind the 3-point line.

Still, it’s important to recognize that this trend is perhaps a slump. Sometimes shots just don’t fall, even for the best shooters. Katie Barker, the best shooter on the team last season, has shot 20.5 percent from three to begin this season; she shot 35.5 percent from the 3-point line last season.

Boldon believes that the Bobcats’ shooting numbers will eventually go up, and he should. Doseck, Agler and Barker are the best shooters in the starting lineup. Junior forward Kendall Jessing can hit open shots, too.

And though sophomore Amani Burke has shot 9.5 percent from three this season, she shot 33.9 percent from the 3-point line last season.

The starting lineup is comprised of capable shooters, so Ohio should be able to rise out of this slump. It’s too early to peg the Bobcats as a mediocre shooting team. They struggled to shoot well from three during non-conference play last season, too.

During 11 non-conference games last season, the Bobcats shot 26.5 percent from three. They eventually finished the season shooting 30 percent from behind the three-point line. That ranked them No. 9 in the MAC.

So, the numbers can and probably will go up. That’s usually how it works. At some point, shots start to fall.

The Bobcats just need to keep shooting.

“They’re working on it in the gym; they’re trying,” Boldon said. “Sometimes, it just takes seeing a couple go in to get you started. I’m optimistic about that.”

 

Women’s basketball: Ohio struggles against IUPUI’s full-court pressure, falls 76-52

Women's basketball: Ohio struggles against IUPUI's full-court pressure, falls 76-52

 

Ohio freshman guard Cierra Hooks (#1) drives to the basket during the second half of the Bobcats’s win over Notre Dame College on Nov. 16. (Photo by CARL FONTICELLA | FOR THE POST)

 

Ohio sometimes wouldn’t even encounter pressure from multiple players.

Most times IUPUI sent one player with another lurking behind to tightly guard Ohio’s ballhandler. But that one player would guard the ball until it reached half court.

The Bobcats struggled against the Jaguars’ full-court pressure, and though the pressure only directly caused one turnover, the Bobcats committed a season-high 17 turnovers. Ohio lost 76-52 against IUPUI on Saturday in The Convo, not once taking the lead in the game. The loss marks the program’s biggest since 2013, coach Bob Boldon’s first season with the Bobcats.

The one turnover Ohio fell prey to because of the press came at the beginning of the game. After IUPUI forward Tamya Sims scored a layup, Ohio turned the ball over on the inbounds pass.

Boldon said he thought that was the only turnover the press directly caused. Even so, the Jaguars played tight defense in the half court, too.

“We had some passes in the half-court offense where we just passed it to them,” Boldon said.

The Bobcats scored nine points in the first quarter, but they gave up 26. For a team that prides itself on defense, its intensity on that end wasn’t present. For the first time this season, the Bobcats, who lead the country in turnover margin, didn’t win the turnover battle; they tied the Jaguars in the category with 17.

“When you give up 26 points in the first quarter, you’re really digging yourself a hole that’s going to be hard to come out of regardless,” junior Kendall Jessing said. “That’s definitely something that needs to change now that we’re in December basketball.”

As Jessing fielded questions, she talked of how the Bobcats prepared for the Jaguars’ pressure.

She emphasized that the Jaguars came ready, and the Bobcats simply didn’t have the same tenacity.

“We were caught flat, and that can’t happen,” Jessing said.

While the Bobcats were down by 17 at the end of the first, they won the second quarter — the only quarter that Boldon was content with.

His team started playing better defensively, holding IUPUI scoreless in the second quarter until the 4:48 mark. The Bobcats also didn’t allow the Jaguars to tally an offensive rebound in the quarter after giving up seven in the first quarter. As Ohio entered halftime down 35-28, it was starting to gain momentum.

But as the third quarter commenced, the Bobcats finished it without having a defining run. The closest they were in the quarter was at the 8:29 mark, when they were down 38-33. From there, the Jaguars had at least a seven-point lead the rest of the game.

Still, looking back at the game, Boldon knows the Bobcats’ second quarter was a bright spot.

“We’re capable of it,” Boldon said. “That’s my job to create more quarters like the second quarter. And that will be our challenge moving forward.”

UP NEXT:

Ohio (4-2) will play Cleveland State (5-2) on the road Wednesday at 11 a.m.

 

Women’s basketball: Ohio defeats Eastern Kentucky 69-57, holds on to lead despite Colonels surge

Women's basketball: Ohio defeats Eastern Kentucky 69-57, holds on to lead despite Colonels surge

 

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

 

Amani Burke missed a jump shot with 1:37 left in the game, but freshman forward Gabby Burris snagged the ball for the offensive rebound.

Ohio was up by five points, and as Eastern Kentucky made a couple of 3s to get back in the game, Ohio needed to maintain the lead.

Burris put the ball back up and made a layup. The Colonels didn’t score any more points after Burris’ layup, and the Bobcats won 69-57 on the road Tuesday in McBrayer Arena.

In the middle of the fourth quarter, the Bobcats needed to create some separation — and they did so once again with defense. With 7:10 left in the game, redshirt senior guard Taylor Agler made a 3-pointer to put Ohio up 53-47.

Dominique Doseck, who led the Bobcats with 15 points, made a 3 that contributed to the Bobcats’ 7-0 run before the Colonels began to cut into the lead.

After Burris’ layup, the Bobcats didn’t allow the Colonels to cut into the lead anymore. And despite being down 33-32 at half, the Bobcats outscored the Colonels 37-24.

“We started playing basketball like we’re supposed to play basketball,” coach Bob Boldon said. “That first half was not accustomed to what we’re accustomed to seeing here.”

Boldon suggested that the team’s confidence was perhaps too high before the game. Ohio was coming off its first loss of the season after it fell to then-No. 25 Michigan last Saturday, and Eastern Kentucky had lost three games.

But the Colonels also only had one loss at home, too.

“The team that wins should always be the team that tried its hardest,” Boldon said. “And in while, we weren’t the team that tried its hardest.”

Despite the Bobcats’ slow start, resolve was found in their effort on defense. Ohio forced 12 turnovers in the second half, and it totaled 27. The Bobcats scored 28 points off the 27 forced turnovers.

Heading into this game, the Bobcats boasted the top turnover margin (+17.50) in the country as of Monday. On Tuesday, the Bobcats had a turnover margin of +16.

Ohio has one of the best defenses in the country, but its offense still has room to improve. The Bobcats have capable shooters in Doseck, Agler and Katie Barker, but they shot 38.5 percent from the field and 26.9 percent from 3.

Still, Boldon is optimistic about the shooting numbers eventually increasing. Also, Agler and Doseck hit key threes when they needed to.

“We’ve got several kids that are 35-40 percent 3-point shooters that aren’t shooting it at that rate at the moment,” Boldon said. “And if indeed we’re correct at valuing them at that level, then we’re going to be in for some good basketball coming our way in the future.”

Once the Bobcats begin to shoot better — and if the quality defense remains — they’re going to be a force in the Mid-American Conference. If a team can play defense well, it’ll always be in games.

Sometimes it’s just a matter if some shots can fall.

“Those kids have worked hard, they’re good shots, they’re good shooters,” Boldon said. “They’ve got good form. They’ll come around. I’m confident in that.”

 

Dominique Doseck: Living a hooper’s life

Dominique Doseck: Living a hooper's life

 

Point guard Dominique Doseck poses for a portrait in The Convo.

 

Deb Doseck worked nights, but before she went to work, she’d take her daughter, Dominique, to Alexander High School in Albany.

Dan Doseck, Dominique’s father, was the coach of the girls basketball team at Alexander. When Deb arrived, she’d have Dominique in her carrier and would set her on the court.

When Dominique was 2 years old, Deb and Dan got her a Nerf basketball. She was barely walking — but Dominique just wanted a ball in her hand.

“She started early, just enjoyed the game,” Deb said.

As Dominique got older, she started trying to dribble on the sideline as her dad led practice. Sometimes, she’d even hold the practice whistle and have the girls on the team do line sprints.

Dominique, now a junior guard at Ohio, has been around basketball since she was born. An Athens native, she has one of the highest basketball IQs on the Bobcats. She’s a starter this season, which is a new role for her.

And though she’s not one of the first players to see plays develop from the bench anymore, she’s still figuring out team’s schemes quickly.

When Ohio played High Point on Nov. 12, its first game of the season, Dominique saw some plays she and the Bobcats knew the Panthers had. She called out “Floppy,” a four-high set that High Point runs. And she also called out “Chin,” a Princeton offense set the Panthers run.

“She’s so cerebral that she’s able to play several steps ahead of everybody else,” coach Bob Boldon said after the High Point game. “High Point ran stuff that we’ve never seen before, and the second time she’s telling three other kids how to guard it.”

Calling out opponents’ plays and telling her teammates where to be is not new for Dominique. Her parents said she’s been doing that since elementary school.

“You could tell she knew the game early on,” Dan said.

Dominique played Amateur Athletic Union, or AAU, basketball for Team Ohio from third grade through high school. Her dad coached her from third to sixth grade, and he was also an assistant coach on Dominique’s AAU teams as she was growing up.

When she started playing, Dominique didn’t play point guard. She was in elementary school, and at that age, the ball is given to whoever can handle it well.

Still, Dominique played where her coaches needed her to.

“Being able to see the floor and know different roles was a big part of being a point guard and helping develop that,” Dominique said.

Not starting out as a point guard allowed Dominique to see what the other positions did on the floor. She gained a multitude of skills, which allowed her to be multidimensional. She’s a shooter and a gifted passer, and has good court awareness.

Dominique knows what she needs to do and where she needs to be. But also knowing where her teammates need to be gives her an edge. Freshman guard Cierra Hooks even views her as one of the “moms on the floor.”

Recently, Boldon joked that Dominique was coming for assistant coach Tavares Jackson’s job. Dominique has this season and next season left at Ohio.

But after that, she probably won’t be coming for Jackson’s position — she’ll likely be coaching her own squad.

When she’s finished playing, Dominique wants to coach women’s college basketball. She coached a seventh-grade girls Team Ohio squad this past summer to gain experience, and she implemented a lot of Ohio’s schemes into her AAU team. Her dad was an assistant just in case she had any scheduling conflicts with the Bobcats.

Dan helped sub players in and out, and Boldon suggested some drills Dominique could use.

But it was Dominique’s team. She did all the practice plans.

“She’s just got to keep doing it,” Dan said.

As a coach, Dominique saw the game from a different perspective. She wasn’t on the court, and she had to recognize which players were playing well at specific times. And coaching AAU, she didn’t get film beforehand to break down teams either.

In coaching at the middle school level, she struggled to communicate with her team at times. Dominique told Boldon that, and he let her know that would be a challenge.

Still, she enjoyed coaching and the growth process that came with it. She plans on coaching again next summer.

“He was like, ‘Well, if you can figure that out, let me know,’” Dominique said. “It was one of those things. It’s trial and error, and it’s trying to get different people’s ideas and find out what works best for your group.”

When Dominique started her college career, Boldon said she wouldn’t be taking many shots like she did in high school.

Now, in the first four starts of her college career, she’s averaged 12.0 points per game and shot 40.0 percent from behind the 3-point line. She scored a career-high 17 points in Ohio’s 74-61 loss Saturday against No. 25 Michigan, surpassing her previous career high of 15 that she set against Kent State in 2016.

A player who has so much intelligence, who has grown up around the game, Dominique has lived a hooper’s life.

The days of going to practice in her carrier and eventually trying to dribble on the sidelines, then transitioning into AAU ball — all that molded Dominique into the smart player she is.

Her dad instilled a love for the game in her, and she oozes passion for it. Eventually that passion will transition into coaching, a profession she has a good chance to succeed in.

“She puts everything into it,” Deb said. “I think that she will be good at (coaching) because she loves it so much.”

Dominique is from Athens, but her mom said that she still comes home once a week. Growing up, Dominique liked to watch Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dwyane Wade, who was a star for the Miami Heat when she was younger. She also liked to watch Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird.

When Dominique was younger, she always used to watch games with her dad. Now, when Dominique comes home once a week, she’s still watching hoops with the man who ignited her passion for the game she loves.

“If they weren’t on the court, they were watching it on the television,” Deb said.

 

Women’s basketball: Ohio loses 74-61 against No. 25 Michigan, drops first game of season

Women's basketball: Ohio loses 74-61 against No. 25 Michigan, drops first game of season

 

Ohio sophomore guard Amani Burke (#3) drives to the basket during the first half of the Bobcats’ 93-37 win over Notre Dame College on Nov. 16

 

Before the fourth quarter started, Ohio had finished each quarter only down three points.

As the fourth quarter began, though, Michigan scored 10 straight points — and Ohio didn’t score its first points of the quarter until 6:11 was left in the game.

The Bobcats played quality defense Saturday against the Wolverines, but they didn’t play as well on offense. Ohio fell 74-61 in The Convo against No. 25 Michigan, dropping its first game of the season.

Ohio was down 49-46 heading into the fourth quarter, and its defense put it into position to upset a ranked opponent in Michigan. The last time a ranked Power 5 opponent came to The Convo was in 2009, when Ohio lost to Florida 74-56.

But as the Wolverines pulled away to begin the fourth quarter, the Bobcats struggled to make shots. It’s been a challenge they have had to begin this season.

“Obviously our offense needs to get going to put it kindly,” coach Bob Boldon said.

The Bobcats shot 32.3 percent from the field and 29.0 percent from three. The shooting woes have persisted to begin this season, but at some point, the shooting numbers will need to improve.

Still, Boldon knows it’s only the end of November. The Bobcats have time to grow.

“We knew going into this game that we weren’t a finished product,” Boldon said.

Though the offensive output was spotty, it did have some bright spots. Junior guard Dominique Doseck and freshman Cierra Hooks led the team with 17 points each. Doseck set a new career high for points, surpassing the previous 15 she had against Kent State in 2016. Hooks tied her career high for points, which she set earlier this season against Notre Dame College.

Doseck has thrived so far in her new starting role. She’s provided 3-point shooting — she shot 4-of-7 from three against Michigan — and has given the Bobcats a spark on offense when they need one.

Doseck is a junior, but on this young team with five freshmen, she’s viewed as a veteran.

“There is a little bit of a veteran feel because they’ve (Doseck and Amani Burke) been around the program,” Boldon said. “And they’ve had on-floor success relative to the other members of the squad, but they’re still very, very young as far as actual minutes played is concerned.”

As the Bobcats progress through non-conference play, Boldon knows his team has work to do. He’s also optimistic about that growth, though.

Continuing to improve — that’s what Boldon has preached in his five-year tenure at Ohio. Ohio needs to improve offensively, and its defense is perhaps one of the best in the Mid-American Conference.

But one thing is for certain: The Bobcats are going to get better. Ohio (3-1) will play Eastern Kentucky (2-3) on the road Tuesday at 7 p.m.

“We don’t necessarily have to be good enough today,” Boldon said. “We have to continue to make steps forward, and be willing to learn in practice tomorrow.”

 

Football: Frank Solich talks Buffalo and pass offense, at Monday press conference

Football: Frank Solich talks Buffalo and pass offense, at Monday press conference

 

Ohio head coach Frank Solich makes sure the referee knows his feelings toward a call during the Bobcat’s 59-0 win over Hampton on Sept. 2 at Peden Stadium. (Carl Fonticella | File)

 

With the Mid-American Conference East Division out of its control, Ohio is only focused on beating Buffalo.

After Akron’s win on Tuesday night, the chance for Ohio to head to the MAC Championship Game was erased. Now, Friday’s game will be a game for pride, not a championship.

Coach Frank Solich spoke on how the Bobcats have moved on from losing against the Zips in his Monday press conference. The Bobcats will play the Bulls on the road Friday, and it’ll be their last game of the regular season.

Regardless of the outcome in Akron on Tuesday, Ohio knows it can control what happens in Buffalo.

“You can only jump up and down and pat yourself on the back so long, and you can only beat yourself up so long,” Solich said.

Solich and the Bobcats aren’t dwelling on the loss. But as Solich fielded questions about the Akron game, he mentioned what hurt Ohio perhaps the most: turnovers.

The Bobcats had three turnovers against the Zips. Nathan Rourke threw two interceptions, and running back David Burroughs fumbled on a kickoff return during the second quarter.

Ohio has tied an opponent in the turnover battle once, and that was when it defeated Kansas — each team had one turnover. Other than that, the Bobcats are undefeated when they win the turnover battle.

But they’re 2-3 when they lose it.

“Three turnovers to zero is asking a bit much to overcome when you’re playing a good football team,” Solich said referring to the Akron game.

Despite the Bobcats losing the turnover battle against the Zips, they had chances to win the game. As Ohio prepares to play the Bulls, a team ranked No. 6 in the MAC for turnover margin (-1), it’ll need to keep possession of the ball.

Those efforts to keep possession will need to be seen in the passing game, an area the Bobcats must show that they can perform well in considering they’re a run-first team.

“We didn’t really adjust well and didn’t have a good passing game in that game (against Akron),” Solich said.

Rourke passed for 110 yards and threw two interceptions against the Zips. After the loss against the Zips, Rourke said he’ll need to improve his passing game. He knows he can’t just be a runner.

Aside from the Bobcats trying to improve in their passing attack, improving their pass defense will be a point of emphasis as well. The Bulls lead the MAC in passing yards per game (290.5).

And with the Bobcats’ quality run defense, the Bulls will probably throw more than they’ll run. As the Bobcats prepare for one of the best passing attacks in the MAC, the pass defense will need to produce alongside the run defense.

But at the same time, the Bobcats will need a quality passing attack of their own.

“I don’t think that you can be one-dimensional against these guys,” Solich said. “I think you gotta have an offense that’s getting some things done on the ground, but you gotta certainly be able to throw the ball.”