The Mid-American Conference coaches poll was released Thursday morning, and the league’s coaches picked Ohio to finish last in the MAC East Division.
The Bobcats received 12 points, the least of all MAC schools, and landed 21 points behind Akron for fifth place in the division. Bowling Green was tabbed to win the division with 69 points and nine first-place votes and is the preseason favorite to win the MAC Tournament.
The Bobcats have undergone drastic change since the end of the 2018 season. Days after their 80-61 loss to Northern Illinois in the first round of the MAC Tournament, former Ohio athletic director Jim Schaus declined to renew the contract of former coach Saul Phillips after the Bobcats posted a 14-17 record last season and finished last in the East Division.
Phillips’ exit also led to the transfers of Teyvion Kirk (Colorado State), Jason Carter (Xavier) and Torey James (Cape Fear Community College).
The Bobcats announced on March 17 that Jeff Boals would be the program’s 19th head coach. Boals previously was the head coach at Stony Brook and amassed a 55-41 record in his three seasons with the Seawolves. He also was a top assistant under former Ohio State coach Thad Matta and helped lead the Buckeyes to a Final Four appearance in 2012.
Boals managed to land the highest-rated recruit in the Bobcats’ history with the signing of Ben Roderick from Powell. Roderick played at Olentangy Liberty and had a storied career with the Patriots. He averaged 27.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game during his senior year and finished his career with most points in the program’s history with 1,817.
Along with Roderick, the Bobcats have five other true freshmen on the roster and two redshirt freshmen.
Ohio returns redshirt senior Jordan Dartis, who missed last season due to an injury, sophomore Jason Preston and redshirt sophomore Ben Vander Plas.
In his first season with the Bobcats, Preston averaged six points per game, 3.4 assists per game and 3.6 rebounds per game.
Vander Plas, who won MAC Freshman of the Year last season, averaged 8.6 points, 6.8 assists and 1.5 rebounds per game.
Ohio takes its first step in the Boals era on Saturday when it hosts Division III Capital in an exhibition game at 1 p.m. in The Convo.
Its first game of the 2019-20 season is Tuesday at St. Bonaventure with a 7:30 p.m. tipoff. The Bobcats’ home opener is on Nov. 9 against Heidelberg. Tipoff is slated for 1 p.m.