CLEVELAND — During Ohio’s 68-66 loss to Kent State in the Mid-American Conference semifinals, sophomore forward Doug Taylor received a pass off a pick-and-roll and dunked the basketball with fierce velocity.
So much so, his jersey became untucked and his pants sagged down his thighs. The dunk fired up Ohio so much, MAC officials handed the Bobcats bench a warning for celebrating.
Taylor’s eight points and four rebounds were vital to Ohio on Friday night in The Q. He battled Kent State’s Jimmy Hall on the low block and played viable minutes while starter Jason Carter was in foul trouble.
But Taylor’s raw emotion, mixed with his interior presence, was unmatched and needed Friday night — as well as all season for the Bobcats.
“I mean, Doug did a yeoman's job in there,” Ohio coach Saul Phillips said.
Taylor’s emotion foreshadows a big man who will produce for the Bobcats after Antonio Campbell graduates this spring, and one who will stick up to the rest of the MAC’s giants.
“I have high expectations for Doug,” Phillips said. “Doug — basketball-wise — he's only had about five full seasons of it in his life. His ceiling is very high. He's a willing listener. We'll get him, we'll get him squared away, I can promise you that.”
Taylor averaged 3.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game his second season with the Bobcats. He played 31 games. At times, his impact went unnoticed.
But one play Friday saw Taylor snag an offensive rebound and then swing the ball to Jordan Dartis at the top of the key, who eventually swung it to Kenny Kaminski for a corner 3-pointer that brought Ohio back late in the game.
Yes, Taylor’s season stats weren’t up to par with the best of the MAC. But remember: Taylor and Carter were thrusted into a situation they had no control over after Campbell broke his foot in •January.
“Doug and Jason (Carter) stepped up huge this season,” Kaminski said. “You couldn't have expected them to do what they did after we lost Tony and the ball came around to me, and I happened to make a shot but it just wasn't enough today.”
It’s a common theme for Ohio’s 2017: unexpected heroes who made a subtle difference. Maybe in 2018, things will be different for Taylor and Ohio.
Friday may have been a glimpse of what’s to come from Taylor.
“If life was fair, Tony wouldn't have broke his foot either, so start making excuses, no big deal,” Phillips said. “If you're men, you handle it, you move on.”