Ohio's season didn't end the way it wanted to last year.
It lost to Kent State in the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament and fell in the second round of the College Basketball Invitational. It later lost almost half its team to the transfer portal.
But the Bobcats are back and arguably the freshest they've been in a while. The roster boasts nine underclassmen and three transfers. Of the current Bobcats, only four of them have seen significant playing time in green and white.
"I feel like we have a lot to prove," senior Ben Roderick said. "I feel like everyday we come in (and) we want to get closer as a team every day and we want to get better as a team."
Luckily, Ohio's summer trip to Spain allowed coach Jeff Boals to see his new squad in action.
"We played three professional teams ranging from 23-year-olds to 35 year-olds, "Boals said. "That was really good for our guys. We (also) had a preseason scrimmage against Cincinnati to go against another Division I team, which was really good for us."
There are a few interesting stops in Ohio's nonconference schedule. Along the way, Ohio will see familiar faces in Marshall and Cleveland State. It will later travel to Tampa in December for a semi-neutral game against Florida. Before then, Ohio will play UC Clermont — a Division II USCAA team, on Nov. 30.
Scheduling has been tough for the Bobcats over the past few seasons. Their success has turned away potential opponents but opened the door for new ones.
"I understand why some teams don't want to play us, but we have a tough schedule," Boals said. "We have a lot of tough mid-major games at Youngstown State, at Delaware (and) at Detroit. You try to get a lot of different styles of play."
Ohio will start MAC play on the road this season. It will play at Buffalo on Jan. 3 and at Bowling Green on Jan. 7. Its first conference home game will be Jan. 10 against Ball State.
The MAC looks a little different this year. Ohio was one of many teams to be hit by the transfer portal. However, Ohio knows that its scouting ability will help it through. It will be important for the new Ohio to congeal before it takes on the MAC.
"Going from nonconference to conference, the intensity grows," Roderick said. "I feel like getting our chemistry down and really making sure we're in the right spots early in the season because then when it comes to conference play, teams tend to pick it up."
The Bobcats were picked to finish fifth in the MAC in the preseason coaches poll. They did not receive any first-place votes this season.
Ohio is set to begin its season again with an exhibition against Capital. Last season, Ohio defeated Capital 92-66 in The Convo. Boals sees the exhibition as a dress rehearsal for his team because it's the first time they will play in front of an audience this season.
"There's just so many question marks about our team," Boals said. "I feel good about where we're at, but we've got to keep getting better. (Capital) is the first step."