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For ’Cats, new coach means new approach

Over the past decade, Ohio has personified dominance within the Mid-American Conference. Now, under the new direction of coach Deane Webb, it’s looking to take the next step.

Over the past decade, Ohio has personified dominance within the Mid-American Conference. Now, under the new direction of coach Deane Webb, it’s looking to take the next step.

As a team, the Bobcats are no longer satisfied with just reaching the NCAA Tournament. The Bobcats want to advance and make some noise into December much like they did in 2005 when Ohio reached the Sweet 16.

Webb is familiar himself with what challenges the NCAA Tournament brings as he has been there three times under his tenure at Belmont.

“I really believe in aggressive play and I have a higher tolerance for errors because of that,” Webb said. “I really want to free our players to take aggressive swings when their serving and nine out of 10 days that’s a really good thing”

This is a strategy he has implemented over his time at Belmont and Eastern Kentucky where he saw it as a necessity to compete with power-conference teams. With that philosophy in place and the talent that he has inherited at Ohio, Webb believes they have what it takes to topple some of the nation’s top teams.

A strong roster led by three- time All-MAC selection Kelly Lamberti and last season’s MAC Player of the Year Abby Gilleland makes the transition for Webb a lot easier as they have plenty of experience. Over his career, he’s been known as a program builder, but with the talent already in place the process is accelerated to a win-right-now mentality. This aggressive offensive strategy will look to push the talented Bobcats to their maximum potential.

“What’s exciting is that we are looking to beat teams that are only one level above us, not two or three levels above us,” Webb said. “Other programs where I was, you’re giving up four to six inches at every position. So, you have to be aggressive just to have a chance to win the game. Now, the gap is narrowed and being aggressive should let us overcome some of those disadvantages.”

The Bobcats’ new aggressive strategy will be tested early and often this season as they face Top 100 RPI teams in their first eight games. That is not new for Ohio as over the past few seasons, the quality of non-conference opponents has increased due to their consistent play on the court.

Ohio opens the season in Hawaii and will face San Diego State, Arizona State, and the hosting Warriors. The latter two made the NCAA Tournament last year.

The idea behind facing this high quality of opponent is to prepare the team for the tough tests it will face when it comes time for postseason play. Playing well in the postseason re- mains the ultimate goal for the Bobcats, something that hasn’t changed from a year ago.

“Both coaches want to schedule tough, but they’re realistic and know that we have to work hard to beat those teams we’re coming into in the preseason,” Gilleland said. “They have the same goals set out for us in the MAC and the postseason.” 

@KOVARANDREW

AK840511@OHIO.EDU 

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