Teyvion Kirk took a dribble, shouldered his way into a defender and fired up a floater inside the paint countless times Tuesday night. They were tough shots to hit, and were almost always contested.
More importantly, they was a shots that didn’t fall often, but had to be taken.
Kirk’s play seemed sloppy at times in the 66-52 loss to Kent State, finishing 4-of-22 from the field. But with teammates passing up shots — a Gavin Block 3-pointer or Jason Carter jump shot — Kirk was forced to take low-percentage shots with seconds left on the shot clock.
On Tuesday night at The Convo, Ohio took a step backwards in its offensive production. Instead of being .500 in the Mid-American Conference, it was left wondering what its identity was.
"We didn't adjust well throughout the whole game honestly," Block said. "You can't come off playing that well and settle for being okay with one win on Saturday. We have to be ready every single day and that has to be our mindset.”
With 2:58 left in the game, the shot clock went off on what would’ve been an Ohio shot clock violation. Multiple players had passed up shots. One shot grazed the rim, but the clock wasn’t reset.
The Bobcats got the ball back, but it seemed more players were concerned with the human error than the fact that Ohio wasn’t producing shot opportunities.
Possession after possession, opportunities were lost due to missed shots, silly shot selection and lackadaisical ball control. The poor offensive production didn’t come in spurts; the spurts were the minute glimpses of a promising offense.
In the postgame press conference, there was a tension around Kirk’s play. Block admitted he should say something to Kirk, and coach Saul Phillips bluntly said Kirk needs to get better.
Phillips was asked if he told Kirk to shoot his way out of the slump in the second half.
Tuesday night could be the start of the crossroads for the Bobcats’ season. Recover well and get back some offensive production Friday night at Toledo.
It could be a path similar to last season, a MAC season filled with disappointment and dread. A loss to Toledo on Friday would put Ohio at 1-4 in league play.
But the worst is this: Ohio needs to fix itself now. The Bobcats don’t have time to worry about other MAC teams. Instead, they need to focus on what their problems are. Problems that should’ve been fixed in nonconference play, but seem to be lingering.
Players and coaches found it hard to put their feelings into words after the game. As frustration grew about Kirk’s play, it became more and more apparent that Ohio’s season is far from over.
“It’s a team thing,“ Carter said. “Just got to focus on us and stop worrying about everything else.”