Bobcats aren’t pack animals, but inside the Ohio University’s Convocation Center there lives a different type of Bobcat. These Bobcats are persistant and unintimidated. This group of Bobcats has dubbed themselves as “The Pack.”
Depending on who you ask, you get different answers on who created the nickname.
“Bean (Willis) and Ricardo (Johnson) both kinda came up with it, but I think Bean was the one who initially came up with it,” says redshirt sophomore Treg Setty.
When junior Stevie Taylor was asked, he had something different to say. “First of all, me and Bean were the originators. I don’t know how the hell (Ricardo Johnson) came in there, but I guess you can put Ric-J on there too,” says the outspoken point guard.
The nickname was created after an open gym this past offseason, but has been used as a running metaphor by the team.
“We were up at Bean’s apartment watching some movies and we were watching The Gray with Liam Neeson, and it talked about wolves and how they stick together in a pack…so he started saying that,” says Setty.”Eventually we just started calling ourselves it last year after the season ended. Back in the spring we started lifting and running, and that’s when we started calling ourselves ‘The Pack.'”
“Everyone was saying we need to be hungry like lions, like wolves, or like a wolf pack,”says Taylor. “We just rolled with ‘The Pack’ after that.”
The “Pack” nickname is represented by the Green & White on the court, in the locker room, and on team trips.
“It represents togetherness,” says Ohio head coach Jim Christian. “(The team) thought maybe at times we weren’t as together last year as we wanted to be. They did an unbelievable job of forming that. We’ve got to be one. We’ve got to be as strong as a pack and that doesn’t always mean things are going to go well, but we have to stay together.”
“It comes into play when we hit adversity,” says Taylor. “When teams go on runs, we’ve got to stick together as a pack and as a unit. No one person can do it on their own. We need everybody involved. We keep saying in the huddles during timeout just to let everybody know that we’ve got to stick together.”
Christian is the leader of “The Pack.” The 48 year-old head coach is in his second year at Ohio, and has the Bobcats battling for a second consecutive MAC regular season title after graduating four of last season’s key players.
When Ohio senior forward Ricardo Johnson suffered a likely season-ending leg fracture on Jan. 4th vs. UNC-Asheville, the team’s new nickname was given new meaning. “I told them at halftime, ‘The Pack is wounded,’” said Christian after the game. After the injury to Johnson, Ohio outscored UNC-Asheville 64-40 and came away with a 79-70 win.
Including that game, Ohio is 5-2 since the injury. Coach Cristian attributes the the team’s seamless recovery to their “Pack” mentality. “If there’s a positive that comes out of those type of things, it fuses the other guys together. They have to pick up the load for somebody who’s not going to be there,” he says.
Seniors T.J. Hall and Travis Wilkins have stepped up in Johnson’s place. Each has raised their points per game average significantly since the UNC-Asheville game. This is exactly what Coach Christian was talking about when he mentioned picking up the load .
The Bobcats have stuck together like a pack in multiple second half comebacks this season, most recently at Eastern Michigan. After shooting just 20% from the field in the first half, the team rallied from a nine point deficit with 4:20 remaining to come away with a 59-56 victory. It was Willis, one of the nickname’s creators, who hit the game-winning three with 28 seconds left.
“There’s been some times throughout the course of games where we’ve had a difficult half or fallen behind and we fight back,” says Christian. “That’s kind of what the whole meaning behind ‘The Pack’ is.”
Treg Setty explains it best. “This is a really close knit team. A “Pack” just signifies our group of guys. If something goes wrong we stick with each other and push through it. What “The Pack” signifies is us being able to overcome adversity with each other.”