On Oct. 21, Ohio didn’t know if it would make the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
At 5-5 in conference play, it was in the middle of the pack.
Now winners of five of the last six games, the Bobcats are 10-6 in conference and are the No. 3 seed in the MAC Tournament. They’ll travel to Miami University in Oxford looking for their 10th conference tournament championship in program history.
Ohio will play Eastern Michigan on Friday and if it advances, it will face Miami on Saturday. The championship match will be played on Nov. 19.
“You want to go into the conference tournament playing your best ball,” coach Deane Webb said. “And we are.”
The Bobcats found out who their opponent would be when No. 8 seeded Eastern Michigan upset No. 5 Buffalo in the first round.
The preparation is different for the conference tournament; the Bobcats are asked to prepare for every team they could potentially meet. After a week of preparing for Eastern Michigan and Buffalo both, the Buffalo prep was thrown to the side after Eastern Michigan became the adversary.
The week before, the MAC Tournament even featured film on Miami — a potential semifinal opponent of the Bobcats. That isn’t to say they are overlooking Eastern Michigan, but they have to know what to expect, should they advance.
Jumps at the net were decreased and training was lighter throughout the week, due to the high volume of possible matches over the weekend. If Ohio is to win the MAC Tournament, it would mean the team will have play three straight days, something it hasn’t done all season.
Young and hungry
The Bobcats are young. They start three freshmen, a sophomore and a redshirt sophomore. Nerves can play a factor with young teams during postseason play, but Webb looks at it in a different light. He sees an advantage to it.
“In some ways, I think we have a great deal of youthful exuberance,” Webb said.
Away court advantage?
Another advantage Webb feels the Bobcats have is inside the arena. Ohio played at Millett Hall in Oxford on Nov. 4. The RedHawks won the match in a sweep, but the Bobcats were able to see the dimensions of the gym and have a perspective of what the atmosphere will be like in the tournament, an invaluable asset for the young team.
The court may seem like an advantage against Eastern Michigan, but if the Bobcats can get by the Eagles, they’ll face Miami. The RedHawks are more than comfortable in their own gym.