Bobcat fans got the chance to meet the 2013-14 Ohio basketball team for the first time on Saturday. The team they saw was almost unrecognizable.
Seven players made their Ohio debut in a 66-44 win over Ashland in an exhibition game on Saturday. Junior college transfer Maurice Ndour started and scored 9 points and grabbed three rebounds in his first 17 minutes as a Bobcat.
He stole the show early in the first half with a three pointer and what could already be the dunk of the season. Point guard Stevie Taylor floated him a pass that he stuffed through the rim with two hands.
“We called his number on the alley-oop, and that sparked us to go on a run,” said Taylor.
Treg Setty hit a three-pointer and recorded a steal in his Bobcat debut. Wadly Momprermier, Khari Harley, Antonio Campbell, D.J. Wingfield and Antonio Campbell also got significant playing time in their debuts.
“Each one of them did some really good things today,” said head coach Jim Christian. “The strength of this team is in our numbers.”
Christian added that he sees the younger players making a significant contribution as the season goes on.
“The roles they have will continue to change as they get more comfortable and continue to get better.
But it was the regulars who led the way for the Bobcats. Nick Kellogg led all scorers with 12 points, and Ricardo Johnson added 11. Taylor, starting for the first time since the graduation of D.J. Cooper, ran the offense and added 10 points, seven assists and six rebounds.
“It felt really good,” Taylor said. “The coaches have a lot of confidence in me to lead this team. I think I did a good job of that tonight.”
Taylor was also able to spark a critical Bobcat run. With the Ashland still hanging around early in the second half, Taylor grabbed an offensive rebound and laid it in. He followed that up seconds later with one of his four steals, and capped a fast break with a finger roll. The Eagles wouldn’t threaten the rest of the game.
“There’s still a ton we need to work on, but I like the way we’re progressing,” said Christian.
T.J. Hall came off the bench to score nine points for the Bobcats. Christian has been pleased with the amount of depth his team has shown.
“I think I could put names in a hat and pull out our lineup night in and night out,” said Christian. “We have two at every positon, and I think I could start either one of those groups of five. When we sub, we don’t lose much in terms of what they can do.”
The one fresh face that Bobcat fans didn’t get to see was that of Javarez “Bean” Willis. Willis, who violated team rules earlier this year, was suspended for the exhibition and did not dress.
“Obviously, having Bean on the sidelines hurt our offense a little bit,” said Christian. Christian also added that the suspension would not carry over to the regular season.
Ohio’s tips off the regular season next Saturday against Northern Iowa in the Convocation Center.