2012-2013 Overall Rank: #39
Conference Rank: #1 MAC
Ohio Team Page
John Groce turned Ohio’s Sweet Sixteen run into a job in the Big Ten, but the Bobcats nabbed a coach who knows a thing or two about winning in the Mid-American Conference. Coach Jim Christian spent six years at Kent State before leaving to take the TCU job. In those six years he made a couple trips to the NCAA Tournament and a few more to the NIT. With Coach Christian leading the way, this is a Bobcats team that has extremely high expectations. When you take North Carolina into overtime in the Sweet Sixteen, it is tough to avoid the expectations.
2011-12 Record: 29-8, 11-5
2011-12 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Jim Christian
Coach Record: First season at Ohio, 193-132 overall
The high expectations are well founded since just about everybody is back. TyQuane Goard, who averaged just 7.2 minutes per game is the most significant departure. And with those minutes, the Bobcats will not miss him much at all. Ethan Jacobs, who saw even less playing time, is the only other departure.
Ohio does not really need any more depth, but they will get some anyway. Junior college transfer Travis Wilkins was a third-team All-American at the junior college level last season and is a superb shooter. The competition for minutes will be tough, but Wilkins will be a great option off of the bench to spark the offense. At 23, Wilkins has plenty of experience on and off the court to know what this team needs him to do.
Who to Watch:
The backcourt is loaded, led by 6-0 senior point guard D.J. Cooper. Cooper can do it all and will take this team over when he needs to, but that rarely is necessary. After averaging 14.7 points, 5.7 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals as a junior, Cooper has the early upper hand on MAC Player of the Year accolades. Cooper is not the most consistent shooter around, but he will take a lot of three-pointers. That forces the opposition to guard him far away from the basket. That is when Cooper will use his quickness to attack the basket and finish or find an open teammate. If Cooper can increase his three-point shooting percentage up to something closer to the 35 percent range instead of the 30.7 percent he shot during the 2011-2012 campaign, he will be scoring 20 points a night on a consistent basis. However, Cooper does not need to score that much. Shooting guard Nick Kellogg does not do much more than shoot, but he does that extremely well. Last year he connected on 42.7 percent of his 5.4 three-point attempts per game. When Cooper and Kellogg are knocking down three’s, Walter Offutt has room to attack the basket. Offutt is an overlooked shooter in his own right, but he does his best work finishing around the basket. Stevie Taylor had a decent freshman campaign and will be ready to give Cooper a break on those rare occasions when Cooper does leave the floor. Ricardo Johnson’s defense and rebounding ability should earn him some minutes off of the bench again, but Wilkins will be cutting into available minutes for the reserves on the perimeter.
The stars on the backcourt will get the headlines, but the frontcourt can keep the Bobcats in games against teams like North Carolina. Ivo Baltic and Reggie Keely are the traditional bruising big men. Baltic averaged 8.7 points and a team high 5.0 rebounds during his junior campaign. Keely, also a 6-9 forward, started just three games last season, but he averaged 9.0 points and 4.7 rebounds. Foul trouble and not often needing two 6-9 forwards on the floor at the same time kept him out of the starting lineup. But there will be times when Ohio needs to play big and they can do it with Baltic and Keely. When those two are not on the floor together, Jon Smith likely will be. Smith is not a scorer and he is undersized, but Smith can block shots and hit the glass hard. His athleticism adds a different dynamic to the frontcourt and having a consistent shot blocker is extremely important. The 6-6 junior spent some time with Saint Louis before making his Ohio debut last year. With a year of experience in the system, the versatile forward could be in for a huge season. T.J. Hall is another undersized forward who can play either the three or four spot. With that quality depth across the board and the experience this group got in their great run a year ago, Ohio has to be the favorites to win the MAC. But, as we have seen over the years, winning the MAC has nothing to do with who actually goes to the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
D.J. Cooper, Senior, Guard, 14.7 points per game
Nick Kellogg, Junior, Guard, 9.0 points per game
Walter Offutt, Senior, Guard, 12.4 points per game
Jon Smith, Junior, Forward, 3.6 points per game
Ivo Baltic, Senior, Forward, 8.7 points per game
Madness 2013 NBA Draft Rankings:
#107 D.J. Cooper