So much can change in a year. Ohio knows what that’s like.
The annual turnover of college basketball rosters hit the Bobcats (3-2) particularly hard this past season, and they’ll be reminded of that Tuesday night when they host Iona (1-4) at 7 p.m. at The Convo for a rematch of a game last winter.
Last December, the Bobcats lost 75-72 to the Gaels in New Rochelle, New York. Four of Ohio’s top five scorers from that game are no longer on the team.
In that game Jaaron Simmons, now a backup guard at Michigan via graduate transfer, played every minute and scored a team-best 22 points. Antonio Campbell, who graduated and was denied a medical redshirt by the NCAA, finished second with 16 points and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.
Kenny Kaminski, who also graduated, scored 11 points while Rodney Culver, who transferred to Vincennes University (a junior college), added seven more.
A five-game sample at this juncture of the 2017-18 season isn’t enough to properly evaluate how Ohio will fare without some of its top contributors from a year ago (particularly Simmons and Campbell), especially because conference play is still more than a month away.
But facing Iona, after the narrow loss in 2016, serves to provide some measurement of how the current Bobcats are doing.
This year’s unit swapped Simmons out for freshman point guard Teyvion Kirk, who leads the team with 15.6 points per game. Campbell’s understudy, Doug Taylor, leads the team in rebounds (8.8 per game) and blocks (1.4 per game).
The Bobcats have a slew of injuries in the frontcourt, including Jason Carter, who will miss his sixth-straight start, and Kevin Mickle, who is ruled out as well.
Carter was on the all-conference freshman team a year ago while Mickle has played stout defense so far and chipped in 6.8 points per game as a graduate transfer from Florida Gulf Coast. Their absences will definitely impact Tuesday’s game.
Change is evident on Iona’s side too. Jordan Washington, the team’s leading scorer last year, graduated and left the program. He scored 30 points against the Bobcats.
Ohio coach Saul Phillips coached his group to a one-possession loss against Iona a season ago in a game the Bobcats led most of the way. The Gaels, coming off back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, are primed to challenge the Bobcats once again. This time, the game is an early-season litmus test for Ohio — with a thinner lineup than it had a year ago.