Ben Vander Plas anchored his left foot and whirled around to face the basket. He jumped into the air and let the ball in his hands fly. The redshirt senior never took his eyes off the ball as he slowly jogged backward. He maintained eye contact as the ball hit the inside of the rim and sank into the net while the crowd of 6,180 people erupted inside The Convo.
The turnaround jump shot with 8:14 left in the second half was Vander Plas’ final basket in Ohio’s 85-71 win over Robert Morris on Monday night. He ended the game with 17 points and 11 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. Despite his performance, Vander Plas didn’t hog the spotlight. He was only one of the five Bobcats who scored in double digits against the Colonials.
During his post-game press conference, Vander Plas emphasized one point — trust. The redshirt senior is one of the oldest players on Ohio’s roster, and he knows what his teammates are capable of. He knows he can pass the ball off and someone will find the net.
“I think a big thing is just the trust we have for each other,“ Vander Plas said. “Just the ability to have so many guys who can put the ball in the hole is really helpful for us. Just a bunch of unselfish guys. Like there's going to be games where some guys score more than the others and, with the team we have now, everybody's OK with that.”
His trust was well placed. Four other Bobcats — Jason Carter, Ben Roderick, Lunden McDay and Mark Sears — finished the night with double figures, and Carter joined Vander Plas in recording a double-double after racking up 11 rebounds. McDay scored 11 points off the bench and was perfect when shooting from the field in the second half.
Ohio coach Jeff Boals reiterated Vander Plas’ point. The Bobcats know who their most dependable scorers are. They may not all get hot on the same night, but the Bobcats know they have the firepower to run up the score.
“Different guys can step up. We’ve got multiple guys that can score 20-plus points a game,“ Boals said. “When you have guys who share the basketball, play with confidence, good things are going to happen.”
It’s not difficult for Boals to back up his claim. The Bobcats proved him right when they whooped the Colonials on Monday.
Even players who underperformed in the first week of Ohio’s season made a splash. Roderick, who’d yet to crack double digits in his first two starts, scored all of his 14 points after halftime. He kicked off Ohio’s scoring in the second half with five consecutive free throws and ended the night without missing a single shot from the line.
Roderick had been a quiet contributor in Ohio’s first two games, putting up just eight points against both Belmont and Cleveland State. The junior wasn’t satisfied with eight points. He wanted to contribute, but he bided his time. He figured patience would pay out. All he could do was keep shooting and eventually he’d make a connection.
He was right.
“I just feel like at one point, it's just going to all catch fire, and I'm just going to keep getting shots up,“ Roderick said. “I know they're going to fall, and my teammates keep telling me to keep shooting, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
The Bobcats success in scoring — and by extension their three-game winning streak — relies on their own cooperation. They’ve won all three of their games by double-digit margins and have been unscrupulous in distributing the ball among themselves. Boals calls it maturity. Vander Plas calls it trust. Whatever it’s called, there’s a common factor linking both explanations.
The Bobcats have reliable shooters, and they know it.