Correction: A previous version of this report incorrectly stated how Antonio Campbell left and reacted to his injury. The article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.
Gavin Block sat dejected, staring at the blank wall in the back of the room.
The loss marked the Bobcats’ fourth straight and the first time all season they’ve fallen below .500. For Block, a senior guard, there’s not much confidence. He’s been a part of winning teams at Ohio, but as of late, shots aren’t falling and the wins aren’t coming, either.
Tuesday night was the lowest of low points of the season thus far for Ohio, losing a winnable game at home.
“We just need to keep going. All we can control is what’s in front of us,” Block said.
On Jan. 14, 2017, Antonio Campbell limped off the floor in The Convo. He never returned to the game, and was worked on by trainers in a hallway by Ohio’s locker room. Most believed it was a slight sprain, but it turned out to be much worse.
At the time, it didn’t seem like much. But in hindsight it was one of the lowest points for Ohio basketball in recent memory. Almost a month and a half later, it was officially announced that the 2015-16 Mid-American Conference Player of the Year was . Campbell finished with 1,257 career points, 801 rebounds and 119 blocks in 113 games played. He was an All-American honoree.
Before Campbell’s career ended in 2017, coach Saul Phillips was 44-35 all-time with the Bobcats.
Ohio was 11-3. The loss to Eastern Michigan that afternoon was the first of the season in MAC play. It had a healthy Jordan Dartis, freshman Jason Carter and redshirt junior star guard Jaaron Simmons.
Since that game against Eastern Michigan, the Bobcats are 34-37, three games under .500. Two seasons later, Ohio no longer has Simmons — . Jordan Dartis hasn’t played once this season, nor will he. Carter has developed into one of the better players in the conference, but he’s without a supporting cast who can score with the venom Dartis and Simmons could.
The one true constant throughout the before and after of Campbell’s injury is Phillips. He’s experienced the highs and lows at Ohio, but time is running out for recovery from the lows. Tuesday night was a reminder of one of the first lows.
“(Confidence) has to be good. I’m the leader of this team,” Phillips said.
Two low points for Ohio, two seasons apart, both in losses to the same team.
Campbell’s injury wasn’t on Block’s wasn’t mind at all Tuesday. He doesn’t have time to reminisce about the past. He’s more focused on finding a win in his final seven games of his career at Ohio.
His career hasn’t abruptly ended due to an injury like Campbell’s. But it could come to an end quickly if the Bobcats can’t find a way to win.
“We want to win games for Saul, for our assistant coaches, for us,” Block said. “We just want to win, man. We don’t care how we need to do it. We just want to win.”