Cece Hooks plopped into her seat behind the postgame presser table Saturday following Ohio’s win over Kent State. Sweat dripped from the point guard’s forehead, her shoulders slouched and her body looked like it could use a few slices from the box of Domino's Pizza in the outside office.
The exhaustion was present over her body, yet her excitement to leave the room and get to her mini-vacation was more obvious.
“I need a break,” Hooks said.
When Hooks realized the last question from the media had been asked, she immediately hopped up and bolted to the door.
Hooks, like many of her Bobcat teammates, looked exhausted after Saturday’s win. The hard-fought 63-57 win was just another obstacle in a season full of challenges, travel and sleep deprivation. The Bobcats need a break. Coach Bob Boldon needs a break. This week, Ohio’s finally going to get one.
Ohio has a midweek bye on Wednesday and will not have to play again until Saturday against Miami. For many, this break is coming at the perfect time, while for others it should have come and gone a while ago.
“I think it (the bye week) came late,” Erica Johnson said. “For me personally it came late, but it’s well needed.”
Even though Ohio’s bye week came a week earlier than last year’s Feb. 20 date, Johnson is in her right to feel like the Bobcats’ off-week was overdue, considering this year’s schedule has been more daunting than last year.
Despite being mid-February, the Bobcats have only had one in-state road game, which came against Ohio State on Nov. 17. Since then, the Bobcats have been a roadshow.
Throughout Mid-American Conference play, Ohio has had to make trips to Kalamazoo and Ypsilanti, Michigan, and DeKalb, Illinois, for midweek Wednesday games. Not arriving back to Athens until early the next morning can have the players feeling exhausted the entire day throughout their classes. This week will provide some rest from a grueling schedule.
“Just be a student instead of being a student-athlete,” Johnson said. “And for me, (it’ll be) just taking care of my body.”
Boldon said following Saturday’s game that there was probably about four players who wouldn’t even touch a basketball until Wednesday to give their body some proper rest. He’s excited that the team will be able to recover mentally and physically, even though he admitted that his use of the extra free time would be boring.
“I won’t be doing anything exciting,” Boldon said. “I’m not that exciting of a person.”
While Boldon plans to watch the ESPN app to prepare for Ohio’s future MAC opponents, players like Johnson and Hooks will kick their feet up, catch up on some TV and enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Not everyone on the team is happy that the bye is this week though.
Senior guard Amani Burke appreciates the time off but wants Ohio (15-7, 8-3 MAC) to keep playing so it can stay in a groove.
“I think a bye week is necessary for a team just because we need that rest,” Burke said. “But I also think we need to have a streak...we need to just keep winning.”
Burke’s mentality hopefully rubs off on the team in the right way. For some teams, a bye week can be that charge the batteries need to make a run, while for others it can be a momentum killer.
The Bobcats plan to take it easy for now, but with seven games remaining in the regular season, there’s plenty more work to come.