It is hard to locate the low point of the Bobcats’ struggles.
Was it the worst home Mid-American Conference loss in school history Jan. 16? How about the 75-50 loss at Central Michigan where the offensive alarm bell first sounded?
Or is it now — preparing for their chance to avenge that ugly loss to CMU, and two days removed from their other worst offensive performance of the season at Bowling Green?
No one around the team knows or cares. They just know they have dug themselves a gaping hole.
“If you’re not first, you’re last, right,” coach Saul Phillips said. “Well, we’re certainly not first.”
And Phillips’ team certainly is not in the best position to rebound, either. Kevin Mickle (knee), Jordan Dartis (hip), Zach Butler (shoulder) and Mike Laster (shoulder) kept Jason Carter company on the sideline during Thursday’s practice.
Phillips did not confirm or deny anyone’s availability for Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. tip at The Convo.
Considering all of the injuries and losing, team morale is a lot higher than Phillips expected. His players believe in their ability to enact his vision.
Their championship dream is not dead.
“NCAA Tournament,” James Gollon said when asked about how he envisions the finished product. “Even with as many guys as we’ve got out, if that’s not your end goal then what are you doing? Why am I here practicing every day?”
Before Gollon and the Bobcats think about cutting nets, they need to fix their offense. They seem to understand Phillips’ game plan in practice. In fact, he said they looked good for the third straight day Thursday.
In practice, the Bobcats pass the ball on offense; their movements are fluid, not forced.
In practice, Gollon showcases his abilities as a scorer. But in games, everything looks different.
Gollon has not scored in double figures since Dec. 20, which, coincidentally, is the last time Ohio scored 80 points.
“I don’t know,” Gollon said. “I can’t tell you.”
Sure, Gollon is competing against a scout team consisting of three walk-ons in practice. Obviously, that is different from competing against scholarship players on other teams. But Ohio's problem is not just a lack of executing the game plan, it is often a lack of implementing it.
Gollon and his teammates follow a pattern when the offense sputters: they miss a slew of shots, fall behind and then force quicker shots without passing and cutting as instructed by the coaching staff.
Everybody wants to fix the problem, and oddly enough, that is part of the problem.
“I don’t think anybody has any bad intentions,” Gollon said. “Nobody’s trying to be selfish. The mindset is: I wanna be the guy to help us get out of a slump.”
That approach needs to change. Starting with Central Michigan on Saturday, the Bobcats have 10 games to figure it out.
Phillips prefers sooner to later.
“We just need more patience,” Phillips said. “I’d like it to happen right now. Maybe it’ll happen the next game.”