With the exception of the film session that followed, little came from Ohio’s 91-57 loss to Toledo on Jan. 16.
James Gollon said his coach corrected the team at a higher volume than usual. Coach Saul Phillips didn’t confirm that, but he did acknowledge that he kept his team in the film room longer than most days.
Phillips, Gollon and the rest of the Bobcats had a lot to talk about after the worst home Mid-American Conference loss in program history. It hurt to watch their historically poor performance, but there’s no better way to learn from it.
“It was bad,” Gollon said. “But bad is good. We learned a lot, obviously.”
The chance for Gollon and his teammates to prove exactly how much they’ve learned comes Tuesday at 7 p.m. inside Savage Arena.
Toledo has won 13 of its last 15 games. Ohio (10-14, 3-9 MAC), on the other hand, has lost eight of 10.
So what’s changed? Two things, Gollon said: The Bobcats move the ball better now, and they take more pride in their defense.
Those are the right things to say, and Gollon’s words hold merit. The Bobcats have allowed 75 points once in regulation since the loss to the Rockets. They’ve come within a basket of scoring 100 points in two of their last three games.
But Toledo (18-7, 10-2 MAC) is the best offensive team in the MAC. And despite the recent uptick, Ohio is still the worst.
The Bobcats turned the ball over 20 times in a loss to Western Michigan on Saturday. That can’t happen against Tre’Shaun Fletcher-led Toledo. Fletcher scored 18 points in the first meeting and consistently drew Ohio’s defensive attention away from open 3-point shooters.
The Bobcats will need to send extra bodies at Fletcher again Tuesday. But they’ll have to find a smarter way to do it.
“They’ve surrounded (Fletcher) with enough shooters that it’s very difficult to figure out where to (help) from,” Phillips said. “But it’s gotta come from somewhere cause it didn’t work last time.”
Everyone knows it didn’t work last time — hardly anything did. And that’s the line Phillips balanced in showing the footage of the Toledo loss again this week.
His players were embarrassed. He can’t scrap the film; the teaching moments are too valuable.
But Phillips also can’t oversaturate them with negativity. He can’t risk robbing them of the confidence necessary to turn the outcome — and this season — around.
“We can’t have that happen at this point,” Phillips said. “We can’t.”