Jeff Boals was introduced as the 19th coach in program history Monday morning inside The Convo. President Duane Nellis and athletic director Jim Schaus introduced Boals and then took questions from the media.
Boals was announced as the Bobcats’ next coach Sunday afternoon after Schaus decided not to retain Saul Phillips at the end of his initial five-year contract expired.
Here are quotes and takeaways from the introductory press conference:
— Ohio is Jeff Boals’ dream job. The 46-year-old coach talked about how it would take a lot for him to leave Stony Brook, and Ohio University was one of those places. He’s an alumnus and was in Athens during the glory days of basketball in The Convo.
“I'm extremely honored and gratefully humbled to be back home,” he said in his opening statement. “I think when I walked into the Convocation Center and looked up and saw the rafters, saw the banners, saw seats, and it brought back a flood of memories. A lot of them positive, a couple negative, but seeing the banners and the Convocation Center floor — there's no better place. I took a moment and looked around and smiled, thought about the good times and bad times and really how that shaped me who I am today.”
— A lot of what Boals is going to do in Athens is from what he’s learned in his playing and coaching career. One of the biggest people to play a role in his life, especially during his college career, was Larry Hunter. The former Bobcat coach from 1989-2001 led Ohio to a 204-148 record under his watch. When he spoke of his coach, who died in September, he had to take a pause to hold back tears.
“I wish my head coach could be here today,” he said. “Coach Hunter meant a lot to me. I wish he could be here. He got me started in coaching. Larry Hunter had so many Hunter-isms that we called him Yoda. He used to play Jedi mind tricks on us. Larry was as old-school as you could be.”
— Boals is very well aware how fragile of a situation he’s taking over. Phillips’ players didn’t want him to leave — they played until the end. He’s also aware he can’t afford to have a lot of players transfer because of the talent set to return next season.
“I think the group that we have will always compete, play selfless, play as a team and the biggest thing is play with grit. We're going to put a product on the floor that is a fun product to watch. The young men that we like in our program are going to be high character, guys who love the game of basketball, and young men that are serious about earning their degree. Three non-negotiables will be going to class, your attitude and your effort. We're going to have fun doing it in the process.”
— Above all else, Boals knows the key in Athens will be to win games. That’s one of the main reasons his predecessor Phillips was let go and what the fan base wants. They want to win the Mid-American Conference on a consistent basis and reach the NCAA Tournament.
"There's no magic pill or secret formula to winning,” he said. “It's a lot of hard work and a lot of belief. A lot of it depends on the leader and how you get everyone on the same page. It's tough to win. You have to be prepared. You have to be organized. I've followed Ohio University for the last 24 years. I've always been a Bobcat, and I've always been a fan. I thought Saul did a phenomenal job. Injuries obviously played a course in a lot of their seasons. There's different things that happened that you can't control. I always tell the guys to control what you can. That's your attitude, your actions and your effort."