As Ohio prepares for its game against Eastern Michigan, the Bobcats boast a luxury that could help stop the Eagles’ offense which thrives on attacking the basket.
The Bobcats have four quality perimeter defenders in Cierra Hooks, Amani Burke, Taylor Agler and Dominique Doseck.
The Eagles are a better shooting team than last season. They’re currently shooting 31.7 percent from the 3-point-line compared to shooting 27.2 percent last season.
But the Bobcats know that driving to the hoop and scoring is the Eagles’ strength.
Ohio will play Eastern Michigan on the road Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Bobcats don’t play many teams that prefer to go to the basket. Still, the Bobcats have Hooks, Burke, Agler and Doseck, four players who can apply pressure on the perimeter and force the Eagles to take bad shots or make bad decisions.
“I definitely think we are going to shrink the floor and make ‘em kick, make ‘em shoot as much as possible,” Burke said. “It’s not going to be super tough trying to guard them with us four out there together.”
When the Bobcats played the Eagles last season, they crowded the paint. Ohio wasn’t going to let the Eastern Michigan drive inside. Rather, the Bobcats wanted the Eagles to take jump shots.
It was a zone scheme, and it was different for Ohio, a team that doesn’t traditionally play zone defense.
Coach Bob Boldon wants to defend the Eagles similarly this season, but he knows the Eagles possess more variety offensively this season. This season, the Eagles are averaging 68.4 points per game. But last season they averaged 61.5 points per game.
“They’ve got a couple kids that can really fill it up now, so you gotta be mindful of them,” Boldon said. “But they still have the same kids that can get to the rim.”
The Eagles had three players who averaged double figures in points per game last season: Sasha Dailey, Phillis Webb and Micah Robinson. Webb was a senior last season, but Dailey and Robinson are both seniors this season. Dailey is averaging 12.6 points per game this season, and Robinson is averaging 7.2.
But the top two scorers, Danielle Minott and Courtnie Lewis, are also the team’s top two 3-point shooters. Both shoot 35 percent or better from the 3-point-line. Last season, the Eagles only had one player who shot 35 percent or better from the 3-point-line.
That was Dailey, who is currently shooting 28.6 percent from the 3-point-line.
“It will be quite a challenge between protecting the rim, but also getting out to their shooters,” Boldon said.
For the Bobcats, stopping the Eagles is going to start on the perimeter, though. Burke said the Eagles are filled with a bunch of players who play like Hooks, whose best ability is to get to the basket.
Making the Eagles shoot will be imperative for the Bobcats. But Boldon also has Hooks, Burke, Agler and Doseck, four players who can defend well in a one-on-one situation.
“If they get stuck in an iso, we’re not going to be overly concerned, we’re not going to overreact to that and just double or leave somebody wide open,” Boldon said. “But we’re going to try not to live that way.”